How to Protect Yourself From COVID-19 While Running Common Errands

woman grocery shopping with mask

Humans everywhere are trying to navigate a reality where self-isolation has become the new normal: Smiles are covered by masks, six feet separates a species that once craved social interactions, and virtual has become the new tangible. In this world of isolation, however, we still thrive. And discovering new ways to carry on has become a national challenge that we are all determined to solve. One of the biggest challenges has been finding ways to protect ourselves from COVID-19 while running common errands. Stick around as we help you create a list of dos and don’ts, helping you protect yourself, your family, and others from spreading and contracting this new virus.

Protection Guidelines

As people take major steps to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities, navigating the new normal has brought up many challenges and questions concerning how individuals can meet basic household needs. Limiting close contact and stay-at-home orders have become a global solution, making running common errands seemingly impossible. However, there are ways that you can still run your necessary errands. Here are some protection guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) on how you can perform your common errands while staying safe:

Conquering the Grocery Store

Food and household goods are human essentials. But how do you navigate a grocery store while maintaining social distancing guidelines? If you are sick or at high risk of contracting COVID-19, stay home. This will limit your exposure to others who may be carrying the virus and prevent you from potentially spreading it. Instead of going to the store, try online delivery or curbside pickup. If you absolutely have to go to the store for household essentials, follow these steps to protect yourself from contracting or spreading COVID-19:


  1. Plan your trip. Organizing your trip—from the time you shop to listing the items you need—is essential to ensure an efficient trip with minimal contact. We suggest writing your list on a piece of paper that can be thrown away at the end of the trip. You should also plan to shop during off-peak hours, limiting your contact with people.
  2. Wash your hands. Before leaving for the store, wash your hands for 20 seconds with soap and water to kill any germs prior to traveling.
  3. Cover your nose and mouth with a cloth mask. The CDC now recommends that individuals wear cloth face coverings while in public settings to limit the spread of the virus. These cloth masks should fit snugly, include multiple layers of fabric, and be machine washable. When putting your clean mask on, only touch the ear loops with clean hands.


  1. Sanitize the cart. Once you get to the store, disinfect your cart handle with cleaning wipes to create a sterile surface.
  2. Maintain a 6-foot distance from people. Practice social distancing in public by keeping a minimum of 6 feet between you and other shoppers.
  3. Do not touch your nose, eyes, or mouth. Humans habitually touch their faces, making this task a challenge. With a cloth face covering, you can train yourself to be more aware of your habits.
  1. Commit to your purchases. Do not manhandle produce or closely inspect your food choices before committing to the purchase. Limiting your browsing will help limit germ transference.
  2. Use touchless payment methods. Next to the cart, the touchpad at the register is one of the most “contaminated” surfaces at a store. Fortunately, touchless payment technologies exist! If you have access to this payment method, use it to avoid contact.


  1. Use hand sanitizer. Once you’ve completed shopping, clean your hands with hand sanitizer that is made with at least 60 percent alcohol before touching your steering wheel.
  2. Wash your hands. Upon entering your home, place groceries/household essentials on a clean surface and wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
  3. Follow the FDA’s food safety guidelines. According to the CDC, there is no evidence linking food or food packaging to getting sick from COVID-19. All the same, wash your produce and follow safe food handling guidelines.
  4. Wash reusable bags and masks. Discard any plastic grocery bags and toss your reusable grocery bags and masks in the wash, running them on a warm or hot cycle to kill germs.

Getting Medical Care for Urgent Health Issues

While finding ways to safely get food and household essentials is important, so is navigating ways to get medical care. For high-risk individuals, this task can be even more challenging—especially since many emergency rooms are shorthanded on personal safety equipment. One of the best alternatives to in-person visits for urgent health needs during the

COVID-19 pandemic is on-demand healthcare from DispatchHealth.

At DispatchHealth, we are doing everything that we can to respond to your acute healthcare needs, helping you avoid crowded healthcare settings and limiting your exposure to others. Our teams of medical professionals will come to you wearing surgical masks, gloves, eye protection, and—if the situation calls for it— gowns and booties. All of these precautions, in addition to enhanced protocols for disinfecting our kits and cars will ensure that you receive the prompt care that you need in a sterile, familiar environment.

COVID team header

To learn more about how DispatchHealth is delivering prompt care and peace of mind during this pandemic, visit


DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies.

Sources referenced in this article:

The DispatchHealth blog provides tips, tricks and advice for improving lives through convenient, comfortable healthcare.

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