According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory distress. A novel coronavirus/COVID-19 is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.
On March 11, the WHO characterized the COVID-19 outbreak as a pandemic. A pandemic is defined simply as a global outbreak of a disease. Pandemics happen when a new virus emerges to infect people and can spread between people sustainably. Because there is little to no pre-existing immunity against the new virus, it spreads worldwide. Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, or severe acute respiratory syndrome. Coronaviruses are found in different animals such as camels, cattle, cats and bats; some coronaviruses can be transmitted between animals and people. As a result of the spread of COVID-19, many state governments and U.S. cities have ordered residents to stay home and shelter in place.
Many state and local governments have also ordered non-essential businesses to close in order to slow the spread (also referred to as “flattening the curve”) of the virus. Many schools across the country have closed, additionally, community and sporting events, parades, and many other social events have been canceled. Local and federal officials are instructing people to implement social distancing by staying at least six feet apart. Supermarkets, considered an essential service, remain open to the public.How is COVID-19 transmitted? It is thought that the virus is spread mainly person-to-person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Some international destinations now have apparent community spread with the virus that causes COVID-19, as do some parts of the United States. Community spread means some people have been infected and it is not known how or where they became exposed.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19? According to the CDC, symptoms include an upper respiratory-tract illness with cough, shortness of breath and fever. It is believed that symptoms appear within 2-14 days after exposure.
How can I reduce my risk of catching COVID-19? The CDC recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Stay home if possible.
- Keep away from people who are sick.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or disinfecting wipe.
- Practice social distancing by staying at least six feet apart.
How are your stores responding to COVID-19? Like every company around the world, particularly those accessible to the public, we are carefully monitoring the situation and working with our stores to make sure they have updated response plans. We are also closely following all CDC alerts and recommendations and taking all the necessary steps to prepare and educate associates in our warehouses, offices and at our retail locations.
The safety of customers and associates is always our highest priority, and we remain vigilant in enforcing established proper food-handling, hand-washing and hygiene practices, while promoting social distancing in our stores. It is important to know that we are taking the necessary steps to keep our stores a safe place to work and shop. Our stores maintain and will continue to consistently apply our cleaning and disinfection guidelines to mitigate the risk of the virus. For more information regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, refer to the following resources:For more information regarding the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, refer to the following resources:
- CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html
- FDA coronavirus webpage: https://www.fda.gov/emergency-preparedness-and-response/mcm-issues/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov
- FMI webpage: https://www.fmi.org/food-safety/coronavirus