Safely Grocery Shop

Grocery Shop Safely with These 10 Tips to Protect Your Health

For many of us, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed almost every part of our lives, especially how we shop for groceries. Even our grocery stores look different: some have long lines outside, bare shelves, shoppers and staff wearing masks and gloves, and sneeze guards at the register.

Understandably, you may be dreading your next shopping trip and worried about how safe your groceries are. These ten tips will help you protect your health, as well as the health of those in your community.

1. Don’t Hoard

Woman at Supermarket Aisle

Don’t worry, there won’t be a food shortage. Stock your kitchen with non-perishable dry staples (rice, beans, peanut butter, canned goods) in addition to fresh and healthy fare. Many families and vulnerable seniors may not be able to get out to the markets or afford to buy two weeks of groceries at once, so be respectful and only get what you need for the immediate future.

2. Go to the Market When It Will Be Less Crowded

Man Shopping at the Grocery Store

Morning is usually a good time, but many stores now have special early hours for senior shoppers, so call before you go. Even if your kids are home from school, shop by yourself to make it safer for everyone.

3. Wear a Mask

Face Masks and Disposable Gloves

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti has recommended we all wear masks or face coverings when we are out in public. If you don’t have one, there are instructions online for how to make your own.

There has been discussion about whether wearing gloves makes a difference in protecting against the spread of coronavirus. If you do choose to wear them, experts agree that you shouldn’t reuse disposable gloves; for every use, always wear a fresh pair. You may also use durable gloves that can be cleaned after every use. Either way, you still need to wash your hands frequently.

4. Prepare a Grocery List in Advance

Person at the Supermarket Looking at Phone

Sticking to a pre-planned list will help you get in, get what you need, and get out as fast as possible.

5. Look with Your Eyes, Not Your Hands

Woman Buying Groceries at the Supermarket

Don’t pick anything up unless you’re going to buy it.

6. Maintain Your Distance

Man Shopping at the Supermarket

Keep at least 6 feet between you and other shoppers and store employees.

7. Continue to Make Healthy Choices

Staying healthy may be one way to protect yourself from COVID-19, so stick with nutritious food choices:

8. Pay with a Credit or Debit Card

Paying with Credit Card

Save your cash and pay with a card instead, since paper money can spread germs.

9. Wipe Down Your Packages Before You Put Them Away

Someone Washing His Hands

Every time you go to a market and make purchases, follow these steps:

  • As soon as you get home, wash your hands.
  • Wipe all plastic, glass, and metal containers with a disinfecting wipe or a bleach solution (five tablespoons of bleach to a gallon of water).
  • Thoroughly wash all produce with water only: soap or bleach could leave a residue that may be harmful if swallowed.
  • Once you’ve finished, wash your hands again.

10. Show Courtesy and Appreciation to Supermarket Employees

Man Paying the Bill at the Supermarket

Supermarket workers are some of those at highest risk for getting the virus, so they’re under a lot of stress. Show them some gratitude by smiling, being patient, and saying “thank you.” You benefit from showing kindness, too: being kind can help lower your blood pressure, decrease pain and inflammation, and make you happier.

Having Trouble Adjusting to the New Normal?

Even if you’re the head of a family, you need to make time to take care of your mental and physical health. If you’re experiencing persistent or severe anxiety or depression, or if you find yourself turning to drugs and alcohol, contact our Behavioral Health Services at (855) 425-1777.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

Get started with AltaMed

See how AltaMed Health Services can help your family grow healthy.

Learn More

Cold vs Flu

COVID-19, Flu, Allergies or a Cold? A Helpful Guide to Knowing the Difference

In Southern California, flu season seems to last longer and longer each year. Thanks to drier winters and less rain, allergy season starts earlier every year. And now, our nation is justifiably worried about COVID-19, commonly referred to as coronavirus.

If you’ve got a sniffly nose, a sore throat, and a fever, you may not be 100% sure what you have. We’re here with information that will hopefully put your worries at ease, and help you determine what kind of care you need.

Graphic Representation of Covid

COVID-19 vs. the Flu (influenza)

When we started to learn about COVID-19, many people compared it to influenza, most commonly known as the flu, in terms of symptoms and how it spreads. Both are infectious respiratory illnesses, but they’re caused by entirely different viruses.

Both illnesses cause fever, cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, body aches, fatigue, and even vomiting or diarrhea. Symptoms can be mild or severe and turn into pneumonia. Both can be fatal.

It may be possible for a sick person to have symptoms so mild, they don’t realize they have the disease, and so they may walk around spreading the virus to healthy people.

Both can be spread from person to person from the droplets that come from sneezing, coughing or even talking.

Vaccinations are highly effective at preventing the flu and COVID-19. That’s why we strongly recommend everyone in your family get their shots every year. The COVID-19 vaccine is safe and effective. It is free and available for everyone age twelve and older. If you have already received your COVID-19 vaccination, check with your physician or primary care provider about a potential booster shot. The Center for Disease Control is currently recommending a booster vaccination for moderate to severely immunosuppressed individuals.

Coronavirus vs. Allergies

Allergy symptoms are usually quite different from COVID-19 symptoms. Unlike COVID-19, which is a virus, allergies are your immune system’s response to a foreign substance. Allergy symptoms include itchy or runny nose, rashes or itchy skin, and watery eyes. In extreme cases of anaphylactic shock, your air passage shuts down, and it rapidly becomes difficult to breathe. Difficulty breathing is also a symptom of COVID-19, but with allergies, the onset is almost immediately after encountering a specific trigger.

Allergies aren’t contagious like a COVID-19, cold or flu, so there’s no chance of spreading it from one person to the next. Allergies do have a genetic component, which is why it may seem like other people in your family have them at the same time you do. Unless you do allergy testing and shots, your best method for preventing allergic reactions is to keep an allergy diary and then stay away from your triggers.

You can usually treat allergy symptoms with common, over-the-counter remedies, such as antihistamines, decongestants, and medicated lotions to help relieve itchy rashes and hives.

COVID-19 vs. the Common Cold

Mild cases of COVID-19 may be mistaken for a cold. Because many of the symptoms are the same, it can be tough to tell the difference. Experts say that if your first symptoms included a sore throat and runny nose, it’s likely just a cold. A fever could be a sign that it’s something more than a cold.

The common cold is famously difficult to prevent. But following the same protocol for COVID-19 should help protect you.

  • Follow local and state safety guidelines.
  • Wear a face mask when indoors or in crowds to protect yourself and others.
  • Maintain hand hygiene — use hand sanitizer to clean hands frequently, and wash hands for 20 seconds at a time. 
  • Practice physical distancing — stay six feet apart from others whether inside or outside. 
  • Wipe down any surfaces you touch.

There’s not much you can do for a cold. Time-tested advice includes getting plenty of rest, staying hydrated, using a humidifier, and taking age-appropriate over-the-counter remedies.

Woman with Sore Throat

When Should I Go to the Doctor?

First off, the good news is that about 80% of COVID-19 cases resolve quickly on their own when the person stays home, gets rest, and treats the symptoms.

Unless your symptoms get dramatically worse or you feel short of breath, you may not need to seek treatment (though it's OK to call your doctor and ask). AltaMed is advising our patients to treat mild symptoms just like you would treat a cold by staying home, taking over-the-counter cold treatments like Tylenol, ibuprofen, or Nyquil. Avoid other people until your symptoms go away for at least 72 hours without having to take these medications.

If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, please confirm with your doctor the timing of when you are no longer contagious.

To learn more about COVID-19 precautions, treatments, and news, bookmark our FAQ page.

Father Talking With His Kid

Talking to Your Child About COVID-19

As parents, we try to shield our children from bad or unpleasant news. But in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’re probably already aware of the news and have questions of their own. Children deal with stress, fear, and anxiety in different ways than grown-ups; that’s why it’s important for parents to bring a calming point of view about the subject to help them feel more comfortable. Here are a few tips that will help you talk to your kids about coronavirus so you can provide them all the support they need.

Invite Your Child to Tell You What They Know

Mother Talking With Her Son

Even without news programs being on in the house, children know things aren’t quite right – they’re not in school, many businesses are closed, and they probably sense your fear. So, the first thing to do is invite them to talk about it. Let your child be the one guiding the conversation and listen to all their questions and concerns. Be reassuring at all times and show them you are calm. Tell them it is normal to be worried, but they can always talk to you.

Sometimes it can be difficult to put things into words, so think about experimenting with drawing, creating stories, or doing different activities that can bring more interest to the conversation.

Make the Conversation Appropriate for Their Age Level

Two Kids Hugging

Take an honest approach, get your facts from credible and reliable news sources and share the facts in an age appropriate way. Use language they will understand and remember to observe your children’s reactions. If you don’t have the answers to all their questions, you can search for answers together as a team.

Let Them Share Their Fears

Mom Listening Her Son

It’s important to pay attention to your children’s reactions. If they are feeling anxious or showing signs of fear, address those feelings and do not be dismissive of them. If they’ve heard other kids talking about the coronavirus, or if they have heard about it on the news, they probably think it’s a very dangerous situation that is causing many people to get sick. Keep calm and let your kids know many of the people who contract coronavirus do not get very sick, and many grown-ups are working to keep everyone safe.

Help Them Stay Connected to Family and Friends

Father Hugging his Daugther

During this time of social distancing, remember that our kids are missing some of their usual interactions with family members and friends, which can make them feel worried and lonely. Talking to their loved ones over the phone or through video chat can help them stay connected and feel less concerned.

Teach Your Kids How to be Safe

Teach Your Kids How to be Safe

Teach your children the tools they need to stay safe and healthy. Show them how much they can help you and their friends and family just by washing their hands frequently. Make this a fun lesson while singing or dancing to your favorite song. Teach them that if they need to sneeze or cough, they should cover their face with the inside of their elbow. Remind them that if they start feeling sick in any way, they should let you know. Then reassure them it could just be a simple cold (but check with your family doctor, anyway).

Protect Your Whole Family with the Right Information

The news changes fast, and unfortunately, there’s a lot of confusing and dangerous misinformation out there. AltaMed is here for you to provide the latest updates, reliable news, and facts to keep your family safe.

We’re here for your other health needs and are now offering telephone appointments. Call us to find out about scheduling an appointment.

AltaMed can provide information to you and your family about the best way to protect yourself and your family from COVID-19. To receive the latest news and information about the coronavirus pandemic, sign up today.

Grocery Shop Safely with These 10 Tips to Protect Your Health