You’re not the only one noticing the empty aisles at your local Walmart, Publix or CVS.
Shoppers are stocking up on supplies like it’s hurricane season — except now they’re buying hand sanitizer, masks and disinfectants for the possible spread of COVID-19.
The respiratory disease novel coronavirus has infected more than 90,000 people across more than 70 countries, including the United States, with slightly more than 80,000 of those infected from China, according to the World Health Organization.
The United States, which has more than 100 cases, has been largely spared from the virus outbreak, but health officials warn that while the threat to the United States remains “low” there will be additional cases in the coming days. More than 3,000 have died, with nine of these in the U.S.
Florida had two confirmed cases of coronavirus and one presumptive case this week. Now, stores are noticing an increase of people buying disinfectants following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendation to wash your hands properly, use hand sanitizer and clean possibly contaminated objects.
Coronavirus spikes demand for hand sanitizers
Lysol wipes, bleach, and other cleaning supplies were starting to fly off the shelves Tuesday afternoon at a Miami-Dade Publix at 7805 SW 40th St.. A Walmart at 8651 NW 13th Ter. also had sections of empty shelves. Hand sanitizer at the store had sold out.
On Wednesday, the Winn-Dixie at 10505 NW 41st St. in Doral also was out of hand sanitizers, Lysol and Clorox wipes.
Target and Walgreens say there is an increase in demand for household essentials, health items, disinfectants, food and drinks.
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“While no two emergencies are ever the same, we are currently seeing activity not uncommon during natural disasters and severe flu season,” said Walgreens spokeswoman Margaret Sheehan.
At Target, the shopping has been “aggressive,” CEO Brian Cornell said. The company is now working with vendors to increase inventory in the next few weeks for the expected demand.
Are supplies still available?
But just because shelves are starting to empty doesn’t mean stock has run out.
“We are helping our communities prepare by replenishing the stock of essential products such as Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer, bleach, water, canned goods and paper products,” Publix spokeswoman Maria Brous said. “We continue to make daily deliveries to our stores and are collaborating with our supplier community, industry groups and community partners.”
All of the companies said they are monitoring the coronavirus spread and working with their suppliers to meet the increased demand but declined to give information on specific supply availability or shipments in South Florida. CVS, Winn-Dixie, and Costco did not respond to questions about supply and demand.
Here’s what people are seeing:
7795 SW 40th St. — Still had a good amount of soap and other cleaning supplies left but several shelves of immune support, cold and flu medication were empty late Wednesday. Hand sanitizer was sold out.
8695 Coral Way — Only one bottle of Lysol remained Wednesday afternoon but other disinfectants were still in stock. Gloves were almost sold out. Hand sanitizer was sold out.
8450 Coral Way — A good amount of cleaning supplies were sold out but there were still options to choose from late Wednesday. Hand sanitizer was sold out.
7805 SW 40th St. — Aisles of Lysol wipes, bleach, and other cleaning supplies had some empty shelves Tuesday afternoon but supplies were still available.
9105 S Dadeland Blvd. — Lysol wipes were sold out Tuesday afternoon. Sections of the bleach aisle were also empty.
8651 NW 13th Ter. — Disinfectants, soaps and other cleaning supplies had flown off the shelf by Tuesday afternoon but options were still available. Hand sanitizer was sold out.
10505 NW 41st St., Doral — You’re out of luck if you ran in for hand sanitizer, Clorox of Lysol wipes on Wednesday afternoon. The shelves were picked clean of those items.
“Friday,” is when fresh supplies should arrive, a clerk stocking shelves near the pharmacy department said.
People also stocked up on other items at the Doral Winn-Dixie beyond cleansers, like water.
The National Preparedness Leadership Initiative, a Harvard University program that works with health officials to manage infectious diseases, has suggested that people ought to treat this like we prepare for hurricanes in Florida and along the coast: have essentials on hand at home in case a quarantine forces extended periods of time indoors.
What are you seeing?
If you’re seeing supplies — or a lack of supplies — at your local store, send the information, along with the store’s name and address to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
This article will be updated as we learn more information about supplies in South Florida.