Rep. Chris Latvala is calling on Gov. Ron DeSantis to request Florida grocers to offer “senior-only” shopping hours to help the most vulnerable residents protect themselves against the threat of the coronavirus.
Elderly individuals and those with underlying health issues or who are otherwise immunocompromised are at the greater risk of complications associated with COVID-19.
“As Florida comes together during this difficult time, I ask that you make a request to support our most vulnerable community by asking businesses such as grocery stores and pharmacies to establish senior shopping hours so that they can get the necessary supplies they need and not have to deal with the mass crowds,” Latvala wrote in a letter to DeSantis Monday.
While it hasn’t taken hold broadly, some grocery stores throughout the world have embraced the idea of dedicated shopping hours for elderly shoppers so they can get the supplies they need without risking contact with younger shoppers who may not know they’re sick.
The British grocer chain Iceland is offering one such benefit for shoppers between 8 and 9 a.m. They chose the early hour because the store will still be clean from overnight cleaning and sanitation efforts.
DeCicco & Sons, a small chain in New York, and Woolworths have also offered senior shopping options.
Latvala suggested the early morning hours.
“Perhaps in the morning when these establishments first open they can dedicate the first two hours to seniors and other parts of the population that are deemed most vulnerable to the virus,” Latvala wrote.
So far, 155 coronavirus cases have been reported in Florida including 18 non-residents diagnosed in the state. Four people have died of the virus in Florida so far, according to the Florida Department of Health.
While elderly residents are most at risk, social distancing is recommended even for younger residents who might not show signs of the virus even if they are infected. Those individuals could pose a risk to at-risk communities and increase the spread of the virus.
Health officials continue to advise individuals to ensure proper hygiene as the most effective preventative measure. That includes frequent hand washing using soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is also recommended in situations where hand washing is not available.