Coronavirus worries leave some Metro Detroit store shelves bare

Ariana Taylor | The Detroit News | 9:57 pm EST March 2, 2020

Dearborn — Nariman D'mour noticed she was out of bleach to clean her bathroom, so she headed to a Walmart on Monday to pick up a bottle. 

To her surprise, the entire section of bleach was empty.

Shoppers appear to be reacting to news of the coronavirus spread in the United States and following recommendations to stock basic necessities to ride out any further spread.

At least one major grocery retailer, Kroger, was limiting sanitation and flu medicines online. Walmart on Monday said it was "closely following official recommendations" in the development of coronavirus globally "while working with our suppliers to understand and mitigate any supply chain disruptions," said Casey Staheli, with Walmart national media relations.

For D'mour, she said she's trying to handle the threat of the coronawith common sense. 

"From the news, it's scary but I'm trying to be calm and just eat healthy and take supplements to improve my immune system," said D'mour, 53, of Dearborn. 

A Walmart on Mercury Drive in Dearborn on Monday featured empty shelves where bleach usually is stocked.
Ariana Taylor

The Walmart on Mercury Drive in Dearborn was out of bleach, rubbing alcohol, disposable gloves and face masks on Monday. A clerk was restocking shelves but it was unclear when the out-of-stock items would return.

Cheryl Campbell of Detroit went to the same Walmart to stock up on water and hand sanitizer. 

"You need to prepare the best you can," said Campbell, 65. "Who knows what's enough? Just do the best you can, follow the CDC guidelines and that's all you can do."

A local Target also appeared to have had a run on hand sanitizers. None could be found on the shelves in Allen Park. Across the parking lot, a Meijer store was out of face masks and gloves.

When asked why the store shelves were so bare, a Meijer employee said "it might be because of that virus (coronavirus)." 

Shelves of disinfectant wipes were empty at Kroger in Royal Oak on Monday.
Richard Burr, The Detroit News

Kroger announced on its website that "due to high demand and to support all customers," it would be limiting the number of sanitation, and cold and flu-related items to five per order. 

"Your order may be modified at time of pickup or delivery," the notice said online.

Meanwhile, a Kroger store in Royal Oak had bathroom tissue available, but shelves of disinfectant wipes were bare. Over in Madison Heights at a BJs Wholesale Club, 200-count Nitrile gloves were temporarily out of stock. Latex gloves, though, were available.

BJ's Wholesale Club was temporarily out of stock of medium Nitrile gloves in Madison Heights on Monday night.
Richard Burr, The Detroit News

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wash their hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds, frequently disinfect objects and surfaces regularly touched, avoid touching your face and try to avoid contact with those who are sick.

The center said face masks are recommended for those who show symptoms of the virus, not for people who aren't infected.

"You just have to be careful with what you touch and whose face you breathe in. ... I am a little bit more worried now because people don't seem to be taking the hygiene seriously," said 24-year-old Omar Miller of Detroit at a Kroger on Eight Mile. 

The virus has infected 89,000 people and killed more than 3,000 worldwide. As of Sunday, the United States had at least 100 reported cases. The U.S. death toll was six, all from Washington state. The cases span 12 states: Washington, Oregon, California, Illinois, New York, Rhode Island and Florida.

The outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, has spread across Asian and European countries including South Korea, Iran and Italy.

China has reported 202 new cases, the lowest daily count since Jan. 21, and 2,570 patients have been released. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Originally Published 7:51 pm EST March 2, 2020
Updated 9:57 pm EST March 2, 2020
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