It appears there may be yet another way to help stem the spread of the COVID19 virus when going to the grocery store. In Jackson, shoppers are required to bring their own reusable tote bags to carry their groceries home. Research published in the Journal of Environmental Health warns about the risks of these bags spreading deadly viral and bacterial diseases. The Covid-19 virus is just one of many pathogens that shoppers can spread unless they wash the bags regularly, which few people bother to do. Researchers have learned that viruses and bacteria can survive in the tote bags up to nine days. In a recent study, a group of researchers from the Loma Linda University School of Public Health sent shoppers into three California grocery stores carrying polypropylene plastic tote bags that had been sprayed with a harmless surrogate of a virus. After the shoppers bought groceries and checked out, the researchers found sufficiently high traces of the surrogate virus to risk transmission on the hands of the shoppers and checkout clerks, as well as on many surfaces touched by the shoppers, including packaged food, unpackaged produce, shopping carts, checkout counters, and the touch screens used to pay for groceries. The study suggests the use of regular “in-store hand hygiene” and “surface disinfection” by merchants, as well as educating shoppers to wash their tote bags after use.
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