(CNN) – As Americans hunker-down at home during the coronavirus crisis, many are stocking up on everything from food to cleaning supplies.
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 auto-immune condition.
When asked if she was scared, Sera replied, “Of this whole thing? Yes, I am. I am. I’ve been following this pretty closely now and it’s just… I don’t want us to be in a situation like Italy.”
Across the U.S., stockpiling seemed to be everywhere going into the weekend.
A prominent analytics firm says online sales of “protection” items like hand-sanitizer, gloves and anti-bacterial sprays, shot up 817% in January and February because many people can’t get them in stores.
Avi Kaner is a co-owner of Morton Williams Supermarket. He said, “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.”
And there are runs on many other items.
Maureen Milmoe was stocking up on groceries when she was asked, “Were you trying to buy anything you couldn’t get?” She said, “Yeah, actually. Toilet paper is gone. A lot of the frozen foods, a lot of the breads.”
Chase Hicks was also stocking up on groceries. He said, “It’s pretty hectic I would say. 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 a Morton Williams supermarket in New York, bread distributor Richie Maruffi is racing to re-stock. “Every single supermarket is just completely wiped out,” he said. “And I can’t even keep up.”
But some public health experts say, let’s slow down a bit. Dr. Irwin Redlener with the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University said, “They don’t need a year’s worth of toilet tissue. 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 non-perishables, that can sustain us inside our homes.
Dr. Redlener said, “Figure out what your family likes. It may be cans of tuna fish, peanut butter and jelly. It may be whatever it is that you feel like you can plan for a couple of weeks of not being able to go outside.”
King County, Washington Health Officer for Public Health Dr. Jeff Duchin said, “Have medications in your home so you don’t have to go out and refill a prescription if you don’t need to.”
Health experts point out going out and crowding into your local grocery store just by itself, isn’t the healthiest move. That standing in those long lines, within a few inches of people, is not the kind of social-distancing that’s recommended.
And they say, however, wherever you shop do it calmly. “There’s no reason to panic,” Dr. 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.”