Reusable Shopping Bag

Reusable shopping bags such as this one have been shown to carry virus such as the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

There is little doubt that the current events generated by a virus mutation far, far from here has affected all of us in ways that our parents and grandparents could never have imagined.

Can you imagine yourself sitting at one of the local coffee bistros having a conversation with a stranger who tells you that anyone coming into our state would have to go into a mandatory quarantine for fourteen days?

If someone told you schools would be closed until at least May 1, would you believe them?

When is the last time you went into the local grocery store to find empty shelves like those you have only seen in the photographs of very old magazines or history books?

Make no mistake, this is happening today. The enemy we are trying to be vigilant against and to eradicate cannot be seen with the naked eye. 

Entire industries have been required to close to help prevent the spread of this virus. You can no longer go sit and have that cup of coffee, or lunch, or dinner, or after work beverage of your choice, because restaurants and bars are closed for dine-in business – all in attempt to slow the incursion of this virus more deeply into our lives.

Along with businesses closing, we have been told to practice social distancing. That has been happening within families since phones got “smart.” The only difference now is that social distancing is measurable, as in, stay six feet away from anyone.

Shaking hands is gone. Hugs are only a memory. Yet we still have to brave the world if we want to be able to eat and drink. We still need to go to the grocery store.

What are we supposed to do? Use the hand sanitizer that has been absent from store shelves for weeks? We certainly need to wash our hands more frequently, but hand washing stations are rarely convenient for the average customer in grocery stores.

Even before the COVID-19 disease became a reality, cleanliness at the grocery store was a concern for many people. A few weeks ago, this paper published a story about the concerns created by reusable shopping bags. That article referred to a study done by the University of Arizona which found 51 percent of all reusable bags contained coliform bacteria and 12 percent contained E. coli bacteria which indicated the presence of fecal matter and other pathogens. That same study found that 97 percent of individuals admitted that they never washed their reusable bags.

In a news release from the National Institutes of Health on March 17, they stated, “The virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists in “The New England Journal of Medicine.” The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The results provide key information about the stability of the virus, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.”

Perhaps a virtually sterile, single use plastic shopping bag would be a really smart product for stores to bring back in this most difficult of times.

Tim Holoday can be reached at