by Mark Fergusson, Down to Earth CEO

Aloha!

We wanted to share some current information about the Coronavirus – COVID-19 with you. See more news updates here.

What Are Down to Earth stores doing?

At Down to Earth, our top priority is the health and safety of our customers and team members. Due to the growing concern around COVID-19 or Coronavirus, we wanted to share the proactive steps Down to Earth is taking:

  • No Mask, No Entry Policy. All customers and team members are required to wear face coverings that snugly cover the mouth and nose at all Down to Earth locations.
    • If a customer does not have a face covering on, they will be asked to use our Online Stores or Personal Shopping options which offer Curbside Pick-Up and Delivery.
    • COVID-19 poses a direct threat to the health and safety of our team members, customers, and the public. Those without a face covering will be asked to remain outside the store.
  • A temporary return policy has been implemented. In an effort to protect public health and to curtail hoarding or panic-buying, we are joining many other retailers and adopting an: All-Sales-Final for items purchased between March 1 and the end of the Hawaii State of Emergency (TBD). Please resist over-buying or hoarding so that food and nutritional resources can be made available to everyone in our community.
  • Some of our stores will be closing early to give our team members time to clean, sanitize, and restock the stores. Check out our updated store hours.
  • We encourage customers to pay by credit or debit card to minimize contact.
  • We also encourage customers to try our free apps for convenient pick up and delivery services.
    • For Deli items, order online from the free Down to Earth Deli App. Orders can be picked up or delivered. (Delivery not available everywhere)
    • For Groceries, shop our Online Store. Orders can be picked up or delivered. (Delivery not available everywhere)
  • We will have disinfectant wipes or hand sanitizers at the front doors. Cashiers will also have wipes at the registers to frequently wipe anything that may be touched by our shoppers.
  • We have discontinued food sampling to try to cut down on the spread of germs. We will also discontinue sample and tester products in our Wellness Departments for the same reason. If you’d like to sample something at the hot bar, salad bar or deli, just ask one of our team members and they’ll be happy to give you a sample of whatever you’d like to try.
  • As always, our team members will continue to frequently wash their hands with hot water and soap
  • We have increased the frequency of our sanitizing policies especially surfaces like tables and chairs, bathrooms, and other frequently touched areas of the store. These will be wiped and disinfected to help avoid the spread of germs.
  • All of our team members will be wearing masks and gloves to help minimize contact. They will change their gloves frequently - at least every 2 hours.
  • All team members will have their temperatures checked before each shift. Temperatures must not exceed 100.4 degrees F.
  • All team members will be advised strongly not to come to work if they are not feeling well
  • Install safety barriers like plexiglass shields wherever possible

COVID-19 Positive Case Protocol

Down to Earth will follow the following Department of Health Guidelines if any of our team members test positive for COVID-19 (Download Guidelines from DOH Website - PDF Format):

  • Contact the Department of Health and assist with their investigation 
  • Work with the Department of Health to identify all possible close contacts of the team member
  • Notify all store team members of the situation. Those who have been determined to be in close contact with the team member will be asked to self-isolate, self-monitor, and consult their doctor.
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect surfaces as recommended by the CDC. Depending on the situation, Down to Earth may close parts of or the entire store to be cleaned. 
  • Follow all guidelines and procedures from the Department of Health.

A History of Coronaviruses

Coronaviruses, first documented in the 1960’s, are a family of viruses which, most of the time, cause symptoms similar to a bad cold, causing mild to moderate upper respiratory problems such as a runny nose and sore throat.  Unfortunately they can also be potentially deadly, such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which occurred in the early 2000’s infecting over 8,000 people and killing over 800, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), first found in Saudi Arabia in 2012, with 2,500 infected and over 800 deaths.

The latest coronavirus, COVID-19 (2019-CoV) was first identified in Wuhan China last year. While the death rate is far less than SARS (10%) and MERS (30%), COVID-19 has spread much more than those two, with approximately 101,888 documented infected people around the globe, 3,465 have died and 56,123 have recovered (as of this writing).

By comparison, influenza — known as the common flu — has infected as many as 45 million Americans since October and killed as many as 46,000, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What can you do to safeguard yourself?

The spreading of the virus occurs by direct contact with infected individuals, or touching or coming in contact with droplets from sneezes and coughs. While there are no cures or vaccines for the COVID-19, there are several steps one can take to try to avoid the virus and also strengthen your immune system to make sure that if you do contract the virus you increase the odds of recovering.

  • Avoid Air Travel to Infected Regions
  • Wash Your Hands – Frequent hand washing, even with just soap and warm water, is important for protecting against all infectious diseases, and using hand sanitizers and disinfectants can reduce viral spread by over 85%.
  • Disinfect surfaces – Coronaviruses can persist on surfaces for up to 9 days! Make sure you disinfect surfaces in your home, especially if you think someone might be infected.
  • Strengthen Immunity – Unfortunately those folks who are older and/or are immune compromised have a much higher rate of death from all viruses, and so doing what you can to strengthen your immune system is vital.

Strategies to Boost your Immune System

Exercise, stress relief, a balanced diet and certain supplements are all effective ways to boost your immune system.

  • Exercise – Regular exercise mobilizes T cells, a type of white blood cells which guard the body against infection. However, continuous rigorous workouts can actually weaken the immune system, so moderation is a key.
  • Sleep – A solid 7-8 hours is needed to avoid reducing the activities of T cells in your body.
  • Less Stress – Stress can release the hormone cortisol, which negatively affects T cell reproduction. Try yoga, meditation or deep breathing each day to reduce your stress levels.
  • Stop smoking – Smoking impairs the immune system, and you have a significantly higher chance of being seriously affected by virus infections.
  • Healthier Diet – Vegetables, fruits, seeds and nuts are loaded with nutrients essential to immune health. A plant-based diet rich in colorful, fresh, organic food typically will be higher in valuable vitamins. These foods all can help you strengthen your immune system:
    • Citrus fruits and other fruits rich in vitamin C, such as Kiwi, Strawberries, and other berries
    • Red and Gold Bell Peppers and chili peppers
    • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables
    • Garlic, onions, and leeks
    • Mushrooms
    • Ginger and Turmeric
    • Spinach and other dark leafy greens
    • Papaya
    • Yogurt and other fermented foods with live active cultures
    • Almonds
    • Sunflower and Pumpkin Seeds
    • Green Tea

Herbs, Vitamins and Supplements – While the hope is you can get many needed nutrients from your diet, supplementing can help improve your immune system. Here are just a few things you may want to include in your daily regime.

  • Elderberry, Astragalus, Echinacea, Mushrooms and mushroom extracts such as AHCC and Beta Glucans – all rich in phyto nutrients shown to be very supportive to your immune system.
  • A Good Multi-Vitamin. Vitamins A, B6, C, D, E, and Zinc all help strengthen your immune system, and especially Vitamin C, which you can get from citrus fruits, spinach and strawberries. We’re fortunate to have lots of warm, sunny days even in the winter, so consider getting outside to help your body produce more Vitamin D. Even just 15 minutes in the sunlight will help!

Please contact us at customerservice@downtoearth.org if you have any questions. Mahalo for your cooperation and support!

We all hope that the spread of COVID-19 is curtailed as soon as possible and if so, great, but if not, we look forward to helping you as you reduce stress, improve your diet and strengthen the ever important immunity system. All of which is good regardless of what season we are in!

With aloha,
Mark Fergusson,
Down to Earth Organic & Natural CEO