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Tips to stay safe while running essential errands
General Wellness

Tips to stay safe while running essential errands

By Your Health staff
Posted: April 24, 2020

The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has forced all of us to change our lives in one way or another. Whether it’s social distancing, working from home or something else, your normal routine has probably been shaken up.

Safer at home orders limit our close contact with people outside our household, thus slowing the spread of the virus. In some cases, you still have to get out and make what are deemed “essential errands” — like trips to the grocery store, picking up a takeout meal, getting gas for your car, picking up a prescription, etc.

Here are tips to help you stay safe will running your essential errands.

Shopping for groceries and other household essentials

You might be low on toilet paper or paper towels. Maybe you forgot an ingredient for the dinner you planned. Or perhaps it’s just time for your weekly grocery shopping.

In any case, there are precautions you can take to protect yourself (and those around you) from exposure to the coronavirus.

1. Use online or curbside pickup when possible. Some grocery stores will deliver and others offer curbside pickup. They’ll even substitute a similar product if something on your list is out of stock.

2. If you have to go into the store, do your best to follow social distancing guidelines — and make sure to clean or sanitize your hands both before you enter and after you leave the store.

We’ve created a guide for safe grocery shopping amid the pandemic. You can read it here.

3. If you’re sick or think you might have symptoms of COVID-19, stay at home.

Takeout orders and food delivery

You have to eat, and not everyone is going to be able to cook every night. You might find yourself ordering takeout or delivery.

1. Limit your in-person contact.

If you’re picking up the food, see if you can pay online or over the phone — and ask if the restaurant offers curbside pick-up.

If someone is delivering your food, it can be tricky to avoid person-to-person interaction. Try to pay ahead of time. When possible, ask the delivery driver to place your food in a safe place, like a porch, and you can pick it up once they’re gone.

2. Keep your hands clean.

You won’t always be able to pay ahead. Sometimes you have to use cash or sign a receipt. In those cases, clean your hands as soon as possible — either by washing with soap and water for 20 seconds or by using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Getting the mail

Speaking of keeping your hands clean, you should follow this same protocol after you get mail from a post office or home mailbox.


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Banking or handling money

You still need to money to pay for things like groceries, gas and bills. Here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Bank online whenever possible.

Whether it’s using a mobile banking app, paying a utility or cellphone bill through a provider’s website or using a mobile payment service like Cash App, PayPal or Venmo — going digital helps limit your person-to-person interaction.

2. Use the drive-through ATM if you need to visit the bank in person. Clean the ATM keyboard with a disinfecting wipe before you use it, if possible.

When you’re done, use hand sanitizer or wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get home.

Getting gas for your vehicle

You’re on your way home and you see the gas light pop on. Now it’s time for another essential errand; one you might not have even planned for — and at a place with frequently touched surfaces.

1. If you have gloves, wear them during your transaction.

2. Use disinfecting wipes to clean the pump handle and buttons before you touch them.

3. When you’re done, use hand sanitizer to clean your hands if you have it — or wash your hands with soap and water when you get home.

Going to the doctor or getting medicine

The way we go about our daily lives has changed, and healthcare is no exception.

1. Talk to your doctor over the phone or online.

In many cases, healthcare providers are now using telehealth to treat patients. By communicating over the phone or using streaming technology, we can limit person-to-person interaction while still providing effective care.

Read more about Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare’s telehealth services.

2. In cases that aren’t urgent, talk to your doctor about rescheduling an appointment or procedure.

3. Take precautions if you must visit in-person.

If you are ill to the point that you need medical attention or think you have COVID-19, follow CDC guidance for what to do if you are sick.

4. Limit visits to the pharmacy

Call prescription orders in ahead of time so you don’t have to wait. For pickup, use drive-through windows, curbside pick-up services (where available) or mail order delivery.

If you have more than one prescription to fill, try to order and pick them all up at once to avoid multiple trips.

Slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus is a group effort. Following these simple steps can help make a difference in our community.