This morning, a local grocery store manager posted in subreddit r/NewOrleans about his daily concerns for his employees' safety amidst the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the area. The post, created by user name throweyway992, titling his thread "Welcome to a biohazard, I mean Rouses," expressed sincere concern regarding things like store policies, lack of safety gear (ie. Gloves, masks, etc.) and how many of his workers have already come down with symptoms. They closed the post voicing a worrisome dilemma that many fear to contemplate saying "I know people need their groceries, but at this point I generally feel guilty or even unsafe unlocking the doors in the morning."
We're all rooting
for the assiduous men and women taking care of our family, friends
and neighbors in New Orleans' hospitals, but perhaps we should also
share the love for grocery store employees who are also "fighting
at the front lines" daily. At stores like Costco and Walmart, there
are employees wearing masks and gloves, wiping down buggies and
regulating the number of people that can enter at one time. Shoppers
can no longer cram together at the register and are asked to space
themselves according to more taped lines on the floor inside. Even
the friendly folks who mark your receipt upon exit are stationed
behind Plexiglas shields.
Given all of this,
aside from the proscribed social distancing, there are several things
we can do to help protect grocery store employees, those unsung
heroes that are risking themselves (many earning far lower wages than
hospital employees) to keep us fed during this crisis.
There can be only one! Only one person per household should make the trip to the grocery store. We understand there can be extenuating circumstances, but keeping your "outing" numbers low only makes sense to lessen the exposure. Plus, it eases the burdens on grocery store employees scrambling to manage the masses. Also, while we realize it isn't always possible, do your best to keep the little ones at home! Honestly, how hard is it to keep your kids' hands (and mouths) off of nearly everything in the store? Impossible!
Look with your eyes, not with your hands. How many times did your mom recite this mantra? If you've never listened to her before, listen to her now! Do your best to avoid touching every single tomato in that bin, or picking up containers to check labels. Now is not the time!
Don't litter! It really shouldn't have to be said, but grocery store employees should not be forced to clean up your discarded gloves, bags and other unmentionables left in carts or dropped carelessly in the parking lot. Throw them away!
Don't touch! This is really a subcategory under #2. Try to avoid touching the employees, or anyone else for that matter. New Orleanians are a friendly and sociable lot … restrain yourselves!
Masking. You know we all love to dress up in this town, just give us an excuse! While we should try to leave supplies for hospital workers (and grocery store employees!), even wrapping a bandanna around your mouth and nose is better than nothing.
"Be nice or leave!" Dr. Bob ain't jokin' around. Packing your own grocery bags, politely giving the right way while they endlessly stock shelves, a smile (a big one so they can see it in your eyes!) and even a heartfelt "thank you" can go a long way for someone in the trenches.