Doctor explains how to keep safe during COVID-19 while getting groceries


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Dr. Jeffery VanWingen has been a family physician for 20 years based in Grand Rapids, MI. This past Monday, the Doctor took time out of his schedule to explain to the public how to keep their home and family safe from groceries and take out exposure to COVID-19.

“We have a dilemma in society that says we need to eat to live, but we also need to get that food.”  Dr. VanWingen says.

That getting of food is now risky. 

“I’m going to help you reduce that risk as you go out into the marketplace.” Dr. VanWingen said, “People are moving, and with that movement comes risk.”

“Imagine that the groceries you have are covered with glitter. Your goal at the end of this is to not have any glitter in your house, on your hands, or especially on your face. Disinfectants and soap have the power to dissolve that glitter.” The Doctor explains in the video.

The family physician explains that a method called ‘sterile technique’ can keep you safe from COVID-19, not only while grocery shopping but while getting take-out options.

 “We use it to perform surgeries, to be in sterile environments so that we don’t give infections to our patients.” Dr. VanWingen said. Dr. VanWingen says adapting those techniques to your daily movements can help decrease your risks of contracting COVID-19. 

Unfortunately, the Doctor says, there is some conflicting data out there in regards to how long COVID-19 can last on items. “Last week the National Institute of Health published in the New England Journal of Medicine an article that showed that coronavirus can live in an aerosolized (outside the body) situation for three hours. 

It can live on cardboard for 1 hour. 

It can live on plastic and metal surfaces for up to three days.” Dr. VanWingen explained. “That’s a lot better than data we got from CDC (March 23rd) which says on cruise ships, they discovered active coronavirus cells up to 17 days later.”

The Doctor advises using caution when bringing in items, leaving groceries in a car or garage for up to three days before bringing them in. If you use a shopping service, he advises not letting them come into your house but having the service drop the groceries off outside for you to bring in when you can.

For what you need in the immediate future, the Doctor offers step by step instructions on how to properly use ‘sterile technique’ on your groceries or takeout.

Here’s what you’ll need before you get started:

  • Disinfectant spray
  • Paper towels
  • Saturated paper towel
  • Cloth Bag
  • A sink full of soapy water

If you must bring them in, Dr. VanWingen says:

  • Do more than wipe down the shopping cart handle, wipe down your cart.
  • Commit to what you’re buying before you touch it or put it in your cart
  • Don’t shop if you have respiratory symptoms or have been exposed.  
  • Don’t allow loved ones over the age of 60 to go to the supermarket.
  • Plan what you will buy for 2 weeks

When you bring your groceries inside:

  • Disinfect your table before you set groceries down with standard disinfectant
  • Saturate the paper towel with disinfectant to consider it ‘clean’ as you return to it
  • Section space: Half as ‘clean’ and another half as ‘dirty’ to separate bags from items
  • Wipe down all plastics
  • Instead of wiping down cereal
  • Use reusable/cloth bag to dump wiped down veggies into bags
  • Spray down thick plastic packaging directly with spray
  • Dump chips or cereal directly into a home container or spray bags
  • Wash fruit (similar to pours on the skin) for 20 seconds
  • Consider cloth bags dirty and leave outside once finished

 “Stores are doing better about sanitizing at night, but they’re not sanitizing every can good, and every plastic-wrapped item.” Dr. VanWingen said. “These days, people do have a bit more time on their hands. Let’s be methodical and be safe and not take any chances.”

For more tips and to see the practice in action, be sure to watch the video above.


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