One of the most shocking things about this epidemic is how it's exposed the weakness of our social system, and our careless behavior when it comes to cleanliness.
Everything has become curious, most especially tasks and behaviors we thought mundane and normal.
Life under social distancing and quarantine is such a strange experience. The nighttime feels normal, but days and mornings feel endless, elliptical and nondescript.
Activities that were once routine have become anticipated and become exercises in anxiety. Personally, there are only two real out-of-home activities I do these days: laundry and grocery shopping.
But even these things I am suddenly scrutinizing: what should I touch and not touch?
Last week I came home with groceries, lined them up by the door, and sprayed each packaged item down with Lysol. I have been relieved to learn more research on what should be done when you bring items into the home.
In her column in Vox.com, housekeeping advisor Jolie Kerr shares that sanitizing food items is not necessary unless it's produce. In fact, sanitizing food can be dangerous.
Washing vegetables with soap will not only taste bad, but can give you nausea and diarrhea. Spraying packages with Lysol is potentially poisonous, as it's not meant for consumption.
What should really concern you is your behavior in the store. The most up-to-date research says that wearing a mask to the store is advisable, since in enclosed and crowded areas the virus is easily airborne and can be inhaled through sneezes and other moist droplets coming from a sick person, even after 20 minutes and, in some environments, for up to three hours.
However, the most prevalent way to become ill is through touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth or nose, which is another good reason to wear a mask, as it makes you unable to touch your face.
The virus can live longest on hard surfaces, like counters, shelves, and shopping baskets. Therefore it's best to think before you touch in the store, and commit to buying the items you do touch.
You should also wash your shopping bags after every use.
Knowing these details has helped me calm down a little about my weekly visit to the grocer. I look forward to the day when grocery shopping is once again my favorite time of the week, instead of one that makes me nervous.