Panic Buying Due to Coronavirus Fear Hits Grocery Store Hard

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Coronavirus

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The paper product aisle at the Wegmans store in Lower Nazareth Township, Northampton County, is as empty as can be after a run on toilet paper, paper towels and other items consumers believe they need to stockpile to fears of a possible coronavirus pandemic.

Earlier this week when Saucon Source reached out to supermarket chain Wegmans about what appeared to be a run products like hand sanitizer due to panic buying over fears of a possible coronavirus pandemic, the company did not return a request for comment.

On Friday, however, a source with knowledge of the company’s Lower Nazareth Township store confirmed that there is now a limit on the number of bottles of hand sanitizer customers can purchase.

“We started limiting all sanitizing products, alcohol-based products and the like to three per order,” the source said. “The problem is…we have none of it in stock.”

In our March 2 report, we included a photograph that showed an entire store shelf emptied of isopropyl alcohol, which is one of the main ingredients in hand sanitizer.

Coronavirus

Isopropyl alcohol was out of stock at the Wegmans store on Rt. 248 in Lower Nazareth Township Monday due to fears of a coming coronavirus pandemic. The alcohol can be mixed with aloe vera gel to make a product that mimics commercially available hand sanitizer. Concerned shoppers have also been buying face masks, bottled water, paper products, nonperishable food and other items in large quantities.

As of Friday, the demand for hand sanitizer had become so great that the store pharmacy’s own hand sanitizer was “stolen” while it was closed last night, the source said.

A photograph of the paper products aisle in the Lower Nazareth store shows another impact of the panicked buying: empty shelves where stacks of toilet tissue, paper towels and other disposable paper products would normally be stocked.

As we reported Monday, the situation is similar at many other local retailers due to fears of the novel coronavirus among the general public.

As for Friday afternoon there were a total of 260 confirmed cases of COVID-19 (also known as the novel coronavirus) in the U.S., and 14 people have died from the illness.

All of the deaths to date have occurred on the West Coast.

On Friday, Pennsylvania confirmed its first two cases of coronavirus, in Philadelphia and Wayne County, respectively.

Five schools in the Central Bucks School District in Doylestown were closed Friday out of what officials described as an abundance of caution. According to various media reports, the decision to close the schools was made after it was learned that someone after people within the district were exposed to coronavirus at a recent private gathering.

The state of Pennsylvania announced earlier this week that it would begin testing people for coronavirus by the end of this week instead of relying on testing by the CDC in Atlanta, however the Atlantic reported Friday that the Commonwealth is only able to test “about a dozen people a day.”

A helpful resource for monitoring the coronavirus’s spread is an interactive worldwide map created by Johns Hopkins University that is updated multiple times every hour.

To date, the vast majority of coronavirus cases have occurred in China–where the outbreak began late last year. However, while the number of confirmed cases in China has plateaued, numbers have continued to grow in other countries to which COVID-19 has spread, including the U.S.

Health and safety officials continue to stress that regular handwashing with hot water and antibacterial soap is the best way to safeguard against the virus, which has sickened more than 100,000 people worldwide.

Officials have also said healthy individuals do not need to wear disposable masks to guard against the virus.

The masks are now in such supply that medical and dental professionals are limited in terms of the quantity they can order.

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