About the Coronavirus COVID-19
January 13, 2021 update:
We will continue with safety measures for the duration of the pandemic and adapt them as needed. With more people out and about, it is as important as ever to remain mindful of all the key COVID fighting measures―especially in public locations. State and local officials call for self-quarantining of all persons infected with COVID-19, however the reality is any one of us could have and spread the disease without knowing. Please follow the guidelines listed above to help protect yourself and others from potential unknown exposure while shopping at the co-op. For those with allergies or health conditions preventing them from meeting our COVID-19 shopping safety requirements, we also offer curbside pickup and delivery services. Please click here to access our online ordering system.
Click here for updates from the General Manager on the co-op's response to COVID-19 and more.
What Actually Happens If You Get Coronavirus?
We've found this video very helpful in understanding more about the virus and how it works. Somehow it seems comforting to know more and we found this video makes the information very accessible.
About the Cornonavirus COVID-19
The coronavirus COVID-19 is a new respiratory virus that originated recently in Wuhan, China. The virus causes mild to severe respiratory illness. It is contagious and has led to fatalities in some severe cases. Individuals in higher risk categories with compromised immune systems are more likely to develop severe cases. It is transmitted through coughing and sneezing of infected individuals. At the present time, there is no vaccine, cure or specific treatment.
The good news is that most people that get the virus recover from it within a few weeks. However, the risk of severe illness is a serious community health matter. By taking responsibility as a local business and as individuals for doing what we can to disrupt the spread of this virus, we help support keeping everyone in our community safer.
About the Co-op’s Response
We have many procedures already in place to help protect the safety of our employees and customers—procedures we rely on to reduce the spread of foodborne illness and seasonal colds and flu every year. Learn more below.
Food Sampling and Educational Demonstrations
Out of an abundance of caution, we are discontinuing our Food Sampling and Educational Demonstrations at this time.
Postponed Co-op Events
Due to growing concerns regarding the Coronavirus / COVID-19 and health risks related to public events, we are postponing Owner Appreciation Days, Groundbreaking Ceremony and Workshops until the COVID Virus threats subsides. While this decision comes at a time of uncertainty, our priority is the safety and health of our employees and the community.
We know you’re hearing stories about grocery stores running out of food, hand sanitizers, and household needs as consumers stock up on the essentials. One of our strengths is we source from multiple suppliers and don’t pull from a central warehouse. Therefore we have multiple avenues for securing products even when there are gaps in availability. However, the national supply chain was not prepared for this sudden increased demand and we too find ourselves short of certain products. As our staff work to secure alternative suppliers and products we appreciate your patience on temporary shortages of certain products.
Employee Benefits and Sick Time
More than 85 percent of co-op employees work full-time, with industry-leading benefits. This is in direct contrast to many large food retailers, which are staffed primarily by part-time employees without benefits. River Valley Co-op provides paid time off to our part time workers as well full time workers.
Why does this make a difference? Employees without benefits come to work sick. They can’t afford to stay home.
River Valley Co-op encourages sick employees to stay home to reduce the spread of illness and in cases when needed, we require it.
The Virus and Food
According to the Harvard Health Blog, it’s not clear if the virus can spread through food. Even if so, it would be highly unlikely. Regardless, health officials cannot absolutely rule out the possibility of transmission from infected food handlers.
Food Safety at the Co-op
Our employees must follow a strict set of standard operating procedures (SOPs) when handling and producing food. SOPs include detailed directives on hand washing, the use of hand sanitizers, controlling temperature and time for specific foods like plant and animal proteins and information on preventing foodborne illness and the spread of infection.
Staff in our Meat, Seafood, Cheese and Prepared Foods department receive ServSafe® Food Handler training, and our managers and other key employees are ServSafe® certified in active managerial control. ServSafe® is a highly regarded food-safety training program administered by the U.S. National Restaurant Association.
Liesel, our Store Manager, is a ServSafe® certified instructor. No employee works in the co-op's prepared foods or fresh departments without training on how to handle the products properly and safely.
Work with Us
We ask all of our customers and employees to partner with us in this. No matter how many food-safety and virus protection protocols we may have in place, we can't effectively do this alone. We need your support to help fight the spread of this virus as well. WHO has great advice here on how to be responsible in order to protect yourself—and by extension your community—from the virus.
How Can I Protect Myself
Because there is currently no vaccine to prevent infection, the best way to protect yourself is to avoid being exposed to this virus as much as possible. Most people that get the virus will recover within a few weeks.The risk of severe cases is higher for those with compromised immune systems and the elderly. By protecting ourselves as much as possible we are helping protect everyone in our community and workplace.
To review some key ways to protect yourself include:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, scrubbing the soap in for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with your hands.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Refrain from handshakes and high fives, try an elbow bump instead or wave.
- Exercise good hygiene.
- Limit activities that could lead to potential exposure.
- Use good nutrition to keep your immune system strong as well as getting rest and exercise.
The internet is full of misinformation, and social media channels thrive on hyperbolic language. One of the best things you can do is to stay informed with accurate information. We suggest the following, recommended by Harvard Medical School:
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- World Health Organization Mythbusters Page
- Medline Plus (A service from the U.S. National Library of Medicine)
For regular news, trust sources with deep, award-winning health reporting. We suggest:
Additional sources of information are available here:
- City of Northampton Health Department https://www.northamptonma.gov/245/Health
- Cooley Dickinson Hospital https://www.cooleydickinson.org/2020/03/coronavirus-q-a/
- Baystate Health System https://www.baystatehealth.org/covid19
More thoughts or questions? Reach out anytime. Call us at (413) 584-2665 or email firstname.lastname@example.org