Don't fear your fruit: COVID-19 and fresh produce

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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - COVID-19 is taking its toll on many area businesses, grocery stores being no exception despite being an essential service.

At first, the rush to stock up provided a boom in sales, but new shelter-in-place rules have seen those numbers swing the other way.

Mark Monnette, owner of the popular Monnette's Market, has never seen such highs and lows in the industry in such a short period of time.

"I might sell 10-15 cases of potatoes over the weekend. The first weekend this hit, we sold over 100 cases in a matter of two days. It's been a crazy couple of weeks for us," he said. "When they put the order in place, business literally folded in half. I think a lot of people aren't even sure if we're open."

Fresh produce seems especially hard-hit, and part of that swing may come from uncertainty about catching COVID-19 from food sources.

Let's be clear: According to the FDA, there is currently no evidence showing that COVID-19 could be a foodborne illness, though research suggests an average life of up to four hours on copper, a full day on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic or stainless steel. For comparison, it's thought the virus can stay airborne for up to 3 hours.

While those shopping carts require some extra sanitizer and elbow grease, washing your apples under the tap as usual should do the trick -- no soap or wipes required.

You may be tired of hearing the words "social distancing" at this point, but that combined with hand washing are still your best bets in warding off sickness in general -- and Monnette's is certainly doing their part.

"The countertops, we've lengthened those and doubled the space," Monnette said, "so the cashiers can be at a safe distance, as well as our deli employees."

Plenty of extra sanitizing supplies placed throughout the store add to the abundance of caution. Wiping down every surface of the market is time-consuming, of course, but worth it for the safety of customers and employees alike.

"We appreciate everybody abiding by these rules and regulations," said Monnette, "and the faster we can follow these rules, the faster we can see the other side."

In case you were wondering: Monnette's Market, like many other grocers in the state, has set aside the first hour of operation each day exclusively for seniors who may be at greatest risk for contracting the virus. For further information, visit their Facebook pages for the Glendale Avenue, Secor Road or locations.