WILSON’S LOCAL PRINT AND DIGITAL COMMUNITY INSTITUTION SINCE 1896

Stores work to reduce germs in the checkout line

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Cashier Zamya Bullock counted out the paper bills and change from James Deans’ $100 bill and handed it to the customer at Wilson’s Piggly Wiggly.

For a week, the cashiers, baggers and other employees at the grocery store have been wearing protective gloves as a means of protecting themselves and protecting customers from the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“I’m touching the money, and the money is dirty,” Bullock said.

“It would be better for them and better for us,” Deans said of the cashiers’ and baggers’ use of the gloves.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the COVID-19 virus can survive for 24 hours on paper and two to three days on plastic and steel.

As often as money is exchanged between customers and stores, sales transactions are a top concern for distributing germs.

Piggly Wiggly manager Daniel Rouse said a memorandum from the corporate office to each store instructs employees to take five steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 — wash their hands, wear protective gloves, wipe down and sanitize checkout counters every hour and read and sign a document outlining safety and sanitation guidelines.

Wanda Stroud, a shopper from Saratoga, said she appreciated that the cashiers wore gloves but warned that you have to be extra careful once you put those gloves on.

“Afterwards you throw those gloves away and go back into your purse for something,” Stroud said. “You just contaminated yourself. So if you take those measures, there is a correct way to take the gloves off and everything.”

CONCERNED SHOPPER

Pat Douglas, a shopper from Wilson, said she was disappointed to see a cashier lick her fingers before attempting to separate plastic bags at a large chain store.

“With what is going on now, I was in shopping yesterday and I asked the little girl, ‘Are you ready to die?’ and she said ‘What? Why do you ask that?’ I try to do it in a motherly way without being offensive. I said, ‘Because you are sticking you fingers in your mouth to try to pull this bag open to put my product in. You are doing this every day.’ I said, ‘Do you realize what’s out there now?’ I wanted to shock your mental state so you will be aware of what you are doing.”

“My fear is that if you can cough, if you can sneeze and these germs can be caught and it lives a number of days on plastic. You have got a plastic bag and you have got somebody who has literally stuck their hand in their mouth and got their saliva on your bag and you take it in your house, you take it in your kitchen, your got it on your receipt. You got it on your money. We are in this point where everything’s got to be taken seriously now. Sometimes they kind of get offended, but I could care less right now because I don’t want coronavirus.”

Deans said he would be shocked to see cashiers licking their hands.

“That would be a problem,” Deans said. “It would be like a man at the meat counter licking the labels,” Deans said.

“I probably wouldn’t like it. Oh my gosh. I don’t know what I would do,” Stroud said. “I wouldn’t use the bags afterwards. We sanitize the shopping carts when we come in. We sanitize the handles, and when we get in the car, we wash our hands.”

PROTECTIVE GEAR

At the Save A Lot grocery story in Wilson, cashier Latonia Cooper was wearing a face mask covering her nose and mouth, while coworker Priscilla Joyner wore protective gloves.

Both have been wearing the items for about a week.

“I started wearing them before Wilson had some cases, but there were cases in the surrounding areas,” Joyner said.

Joyner said the store had posted signs at every checkout and placed duct tape lines on the floor asking shoppers to stay back from other customers who were in the process of checking out.

Joyner said she was concerned about the spread of COVID-19.

“I’m a little bit worried about it, but at the end of the day, I believe in God,” Joyner said. “I’m not going to pretend I’m not concerned about it. I’m a human being, after all.”

A Food Lion representative said the company’s stores are continuing to implement guidance from local, state and national health authorities, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“We are following their guidance to make sure that we are taking every step possible to provide a safe and clean environment for our customers and our associates,” said Matt Harakal, a manager of external communication at Food Lion. “As part of that, our associates are regularly disinfecting high-touch areas around the register. That includes wiping down the checkout belts and the keypads, so they all have antibacterial spray and wipes and lotion and are regularly doing that. That whole area where they would lean on the check stand and write their check or the buttons on the keypad.”

“We also have sanitizing wipes in our stores for customer use, so those are placed around the store now. We have increased the availability of those around the store and are making sure that we are removing any garbage or any materials that may be left behind by other shoppers.”

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