Grocery bags a health hazard

Due to the emergency and current danger we face with the outbreak and ongoing national coronavirus crisis with concerns of potential community transfer of the COVID-19, I submit my genuine concerns regarding the 2020 Ban the Bag legislation, encouraging consumers to bring their own unsanitary reusable bags from home to our grocery and food stores in light of the community transfer of the highly contagious coronavirus. I have contacted many state representatives and Oregon’s Governor’s office, including Oregon’s Health and Human Services, to no avail.

I believe the governor, Kate Brown, had and has the responsibility to send out a directive to all state and local elected officials informing them to notify all grocery/food stores within their localities as to the New “BAN” on the recent 2020 Ban the Bag Legislation, which in reality was a dumb idea to begin with considering the danger to health and safety of our community, in light of the community transfer of viruses, germs, flu and diseases. However, now this has been brought to the forefront and is very evident due to the crisis we are now facing daily and which poses a more present danger by consumers bringing their unsanitary reusable bags from homes, even sick homes, to our grocery/food stores placing bags in food carts, conveyers and checkout counters, handled by cashiers then transferred to subsequent consumers who place their food and grocery items on these surfaces and then handled by the same cashiers and then are taken home to our kitchen counters, tables and family members.

The governor herself or staff should have notified all elected officials and grocery/food stores or at a minimum contacted the grocers’ association and stakeholders that implemented the Ban the Bag Program and informed them of the new overriding ban of their program. Informing them to notify all their members immediately, not allowing them to continue for weeks after the outbreak with potential risks daily to our community citizens. This is irresponsible to not take the threat more seriously and do the right thing for the health and safety of Oregonians. It appears the only consideration being for the grocery stores to make consumers pay for their bagging of their purchases, with no regards for the health and safety of their consumers and the deadly effects that their economic decision has on our communities.

This goes beyond our current crisis and will continue to be a danger as long as people bring in these bags, potentially harmful and sometimes life-threatening, into our food source. I see customers set them down in the filthy germ-ridden parking lots before going into the store, and some do the same while loading in vehicle with some loading into back of pickups where they haul who knows what then bring them back to the store and recycle the germs on them. Customers still put them in the food baskets and if contaminated they bring the contamination into the enclosed buildings and air conditioning and ventilation systems move the virus in air flow, endangering lives. Only store-furnished new bags should be available to ensure the health and safety of all consumers. I was told some stores sanitize the baskets twice and sometimes maybe four times a day, but what about all the times between cleanings, it only takes one customer and one bag to infect many people between cleanings.

This is a serious and grave threat and danger to the innocent unsuspecting citizens of our community that should not be forced on them by government for us to endure when there is an easy solution. STOP bringing bags from home to our grocery stores, even one life is too many to risk for the cost of a 5-cent bag. Bags are fine with the grocery stores, plastic or paper as long as the consumers pay for them. Seems more about their bottom line than health and safety first for their loyal customers.

May the health and safety of our friends and neighbors be a priority for all of us. God Bless us!

Don Beck lives near Baker City.

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(1) comment

Dan Collins

What's going to happen, in the aftermath of all this, is more self checkout machines... It's heading in that direction already. And this virus scare is just going to be the push it needs. End of a grocery era perhaps?

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