TAMPA (CNN/WKBN) – Shopping in the age of coronavirus means some people are stockpiling things like toilet paper, canned goods and cleaning products. Health experts’ advice? It’s OK to slow down.
Sera Tansever wears a mask and gloves when hitting her local grocery store in Washington because she doesn’t want to transfer germs to her mother, who has an autoimmune condition.
She said she is nervous and scared.
“I’ve been following this situation pretty closely now and it’s just — I don’t want us to be in a situation like Italy.”
Across the U.S., stockpiling seems to be happening everywhere. A prominent analytics firm says online sales of protection items like hand sanitizer, gloves and antibacterial sprays shot up 817% in January and February because many people can’t get them in stores.
“Whenever we do get new rations in of hand sanitizer and wipes, we actually put them out by the registers and they go within minutes,” said Avi Kaner, co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarket in New York.
There are runs on many other items.
“It’s pretty hectic, I would say,” Chase Hicks said. “A lot of the frozen vegetables, cleaning supplies, even, to a certain extent, meats and dairy are hard to come by.”
It’s exhausting people on the other side of the grocery industry. At Morton Williams, bread distributor Richie Maruffi is racing to restock.
“Every single supermarket is just completely wiped out and I can’t even keep up,” he said.
Some public health experts say — slow down a bit.
“They don’t need a year’s worth of toilet tissue,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “They don’t need cartons of paper napkins. They don’t need to buy food for six weeks.”
Experts say it’s important for consumers to realize this situation is temporary. Focus on simple nonperishables that can sustain us inside of our homes.
“Figure out what your family likes. It may be cans of tuna fish, peanut butter and jelly,” Redlener said. “Whatever it is that you feel like you can plan for a couple of weeks of not being able to go outside.”
“Have medications in your home so you don’t have to go out and refill a prescription if you don’t need to,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, health officer for public health in King County, Washington.
Health experts point out that going out and crowding into your local grocery store isn’t the healthiest move. Standing in those long lines within a few inches of people is not the kind of social distancing that’s recommended.
They say however and wherever you shop, do it calmly.
“There’s no reason to panic,” Redlener said. “There’s no reason to rush out and buy every item on the shelves. What that does is just increases people’s sense of doom and gloom here, which will not be necessary.”