Just stay home!
We all know that extreme social distancing is the only way to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. But we need to eat and get our prescription meds and take care of the other necessities of life.
Especially if you’re older (ahem) or have other risk factors like a suppressed immune system – or have a family member with one of those risk factors – you’ll want to just stay home.
But how can you take care of all those necessities without leaving the house?
Here are some suggestions:
Despite my initial huge shopping at Costco two weeks ago, we were running low on food.
Since I recently turned 60, I decided to take advantage of senior hours at my local Market Basket. I woke up at 5:00 so I could be there when the store opened at 5:30. Who would be out at that hour? I expected a sparse crowd.
Wrong! By 6:00 the place was packed. Despite my best efforts, there was no way to remain six feet away from other shoppers or from the workers restocking the shelves.
If I get sick, it will be my own fault for continuing on when the store got crowded instead of abandoning my half-full cart and getting the heck out of there.
Market Basket and other stores need to take some responsibility. They could limit the number of shoppers allowed in, stop workers from restocking during shopping hours, and temporarily offer delivery and/or curbside pick-up.
In any event, I plan to stay home for the duration. No more shopping trips, period.
I am generally healthy, with no underlying conditions that I know of. I eat well, exercise, and try to get enough sleep. Still, because I’m 60, I’m more likely to be hospitalized – or worse – if I contract Covid-19. If you fall into any high-risk category, or have a family member at home who does, I urge you to stay home and stop going to the store as well.
So how will we eat?
Services that Deliver
Here are some services in the Boston area that enable customers to stay home or avoid the store with curb-side pick-up. I’m sure a quick Google search will give you local options as well:
Instacart: How did I not know about this before? I mean, I’ve heard of Instacart, but never paid much attention. They will shop for you at a large variety of stores, from Aldi and Market Basket (!) to CVS and Petco.
They charge a per-delivery fee of $7.99 for one-hour delivery or $5.99 for two hours or more. If you plan to use Instacart even after this coronavirus craziness is over, you can instead pay a yearly fee of $149; with that fee, there’s no charge for any delivery over $35.
Peapod: Delivers food from Stop and Shop for a small fee, from $6.95 to $9.95 based on the cost of your order.
Shipt: Delivers from Star Market, CVS, Target, and Petco. If you only plan to use Shipt until you feel safe going out to the stores yourself, you’ll want to pay the monthly fee of $14; if you plan to use it longer term, you can pay an annual fee of $99 (works out to $8.25/month). There’s no additional fee for any order over $35.
Wegman’s: Free curb-side pick-up; delivery for a fee, which starts at $5.99 and varies based on the size of your order.
Whole Foods: Free 2-hour delivery if you’re an Amazon Prime member.
Before you use a service like Instacart or Shipt, call your local grocery store and see if they’ll deliver for free. If you’re 60 or over, ask about any special delivery services they might offer.
Tip the Heroes Who Deliver
And don’t forget: the people who shop for you are risking their health, and the health of their families, for your sake. They are heroes. If you have the means, tip them generously. Cash is like a packed arena for germs; use the app to tip instead.
Keep Away from the Delivery Person
Ask the delivery people to leave your packages outside at your front door. Most delivery services have already instituted a “no contact” drop off policy.
In the event you have to sign something, ask the person to leave the slip by the front door, then to move away at least 6 feet. Then sign it and leave it back in the same place. Don’t hand it directly to the delivery person!
Wash your hands. Always wash produce thoroughly with water and a little vinegar. It doesn’t hurt to disinfect packaged food, either.
Here’s a video by a doc in Michigan who demonstrates how to disinfect groceries. It’s pretty good – except that he uses the same paper towel, saturated with disinfectant, over and over again. Just no! Change out your wipe often!
How can you stay home and still keep up to date with your prescriptions? Don’t you have to go to the drug store?
My super scaredy-cat pup, Obi, takes anxiety meds. We were running low, and after my experience at Market Basket, I didn’t want to go into a store – any store. So I called CVS to see if they could deliver his pills. Why yes, they could. For free!
Walgreens also delivers for free, and because of the coronavirus, Rite Aid has expanded its free delivery service.
Call your local drug store to see if they’ll deliver your meds.
And guess what? If you’re a member, you can order prescription meds from Costco and have them delivered for free, if you’re willing to wait 6 to 14 days. They charge a fee for faster service.
Other companies fill prescriptions online and send them to customers, sometimes for less than what it costs to get them at the drugstore. Just Google “online prescription meds,” and you’ll see a number of companies to choose from.
As with groceries, when your meds arrive throw away any packaging and wipe down containers thoroughly with disinfectant, then wash your hands.
Order Well in Advance
If you want to save money, stay on top of your supplies and order more well before you run out. Same-day or other rush deliveries will cost you.
So stay home. Have your meds come to you.
Besides groceries and prescription meds, pet supplies are the one other category of items you can’t do without. Your dog or cat has to eat. You need poop bags and treats, or kitty litter.
Pet Supplies Plus offers both free delivery and 2-hour curb-side pick-up.
Petco also offers free one to two day delivery, and curb-side pick-up, where you order and pay online then they gather up your order and put it in the trunk of your car. No need to be in close proximity to another person!
Instacart, as mentioned above, will get your dog food for you at Costco or Petco, but why pay Instacart when Petco will deliver it for free?
Then there are the online pet supply retailers, including Chewy.com, Petsupermarket.com, and others.
So no need to do anything but stay home!
Something break in your house that you want to try to fix by yourself? Guess what? Home Depot delivers almost everything they sell, within one to two days, for free on orders over $35.
So does Lowes, for free on orders over $45.
Smart move to DIY repairs, by the way. Keep EVERYONE who’s not a member of your immediate family out of your house unless it’s an absolute necessity. And if you must have a service person visit, keep them at a distance and disinfect everything when they leave.
Is the loneliness of social distancing affecting your mental health? Are you having trouble coping with the anxiety of our current situation?
Don’t go see a therapist. Most have closed down their in-person practices, anyway. If you already have a therapist, call and see if they will conduct sessions online or over the telephone.
If you’re in search of a therapist, many online options exist. This article compares five popular sites, including betterhelp.com, talkspace.com, and others.
Get the help you need from the comfort of your living room couch.
In the past, we may have bemoaned the way technology has taken over our lives. During this period of social distancing, however, our computers, phones, and tablets provide an essential function, allowing us to connect with family and friends, stay informed, work from home, and entertain ourselves.
But what if you bump into the table and your MacBook, perched precariously on the edge, falls and breaks? What if your computer chooses now, of all times, to crash, or yes, to fall victim to a virus?
Many computer repair shops provide remote service. Google “remote computer repair” and you’ll find several businesses that can help you with software issues, from a distance.
Apple provides remote support for iPhones. For a $1/week trial membership, you get 24/7 access to an iPhone expert.
And in that DIY, stay-home spirit, ifixit.com offers repair guides for just about anything tech related.
Everything Else is a “Want,” not a “Need”
That covers necessities: groceries, medicine, pet supplies, home repair, therapy, and tech assistance.
Everything else, except visits to the doctor (many of which can now take place through “tele-medicine;” ask about this) is a “want,” not a “need,” although if I’m missing anything, please let me know in the comments.
The shut-downs we now face provide a good opportunity to look at some of those “wants” and decide if you can pass them by.
Who needs new clothes when we’re at home all day?
Or haircuts? Get on youtube and figure out how to cut your own. My self-trim looks okay. I didn’t cut with precision and artistry, as my stylist does, but my home-done do will do.
Staying home cuts costs as well as exposure.
You can get just about anything you want delivered to your home. Again, though, the demand for deliveries is high. Delivery services find themselves overwhelmed with orders.
Make sure to order what you need before you run out. Plan ahead. You may have to wait as long as two weeks for your items to reach your house.
Many people find themselves in very precarious financial situations, worried about food and rent, and it will get worse before it gets better.
So help in any way you can – from home.
If you have the means, donate to organizations providing food for people in need or computers and wifi to families who don’t have access. Sew masks for health care workers. Drop extra diapers and wipes off (outside) at organizations collecting them for distribution to community members who can’t afford to buy them.
And let’s all give a huge thank you to the people who have to go to work, who provide essential services: grocery store workers, pharmacists, delivery people, first responders, and especially health care providers.
Let’s support those people by doing our part to keep them safe and to flatten the curve.
Stay home. It’s not so hard.