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'Customers should not panic' | State leaders, grocery stores urge against stockpiling amid coronavirus concerns

H-E-B has discouraged the behavior of stockpiling items and is asking customers to "leave some for your neighbor behind you."

AUSTIN, Texas — You may see photos online – or even at times while shopping in person – showing aisles of empty shelves in grocery stores. 

Lines may be long at times, like the pictures shown below from an H-E-B in Round Rock, but the company has reassured that the San Antonio-based grocery store has been preparing for coronavirus.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott reassured the public at a press conference March 13 that stockpiling supplies is not necessary. The state has been working closely with grocers and retailers to ensure shelves are replenished and that Texans have access to the goods and supplies they need.

Credit: Brian Fabec
Long lines at a Round Rock HEB on March 13, 2020. Credit: Brian Fabec

"It was very busy and the can foods were gone," said shopper Adriana Torres. "The toilet paper was gone, the napkins were gone, like, everything is gone."

Despite the long lines and empty shelves, H-E-B released a statement on Facebook on Friday, which encouraged customers to not panic amid coronavirus concerns. 

"There are store employees all over the place restocking as they go," said shopper Caroline Nelson. "It doesn’t look like things are running out. It just looks like people are cleaning out the shelves."   

The Texas grocery store discouraged the behavior of stockpiling items and asked customers to "leave some for your neighbor behind you."

H-E-B's statement comes as a part of its #SlowTheSpreadTexas campaign.

On H-E-B's website, the company laid out what it was doing to slow the spread, including investing time and resources into its partners and their families, placing product purchasing limits to help protect the supply chain in Texas, keeping customers prescriptions safe and helping to ensure a safe shopping experience with frequent sanitizing of stores across the state

Here is H-E-B's full statement: 

"H-E-B has been preparing for coronavirus and we are in a strong position to keep replenishing our shelves. Customers should not panic, as we are continuing to restock shelves around-the-clock. We are encouraging preparedness, not stockpiling – please buy what you need and leave some for your neighbor behind you. We are in this as a community and it’s important to keep calm. H-E-B Partners are ready to help #SlowtheSpreadTexas."

Post by HEB.

Randalls also put out a statement:

"The health and safety of everyone who walks through our doors is our top priority.

As a food retailer, we have rigorous protocols in place to ensure we remain compliant with strict food safety regulations. In addition, we have stepped up how often we clean and disinfect all departments, restrooms, and other high-touch points of the store, like check-stands and service counters. For customers' convenience, we have introduced cart wipes and hand sanitizer stations at key locations throughout all of the stores. We have provided our employees the latest information from the CDC and are maintaining an internal portal page as a resource for our team. We have asked all employees and encourage everyone to follow the CDC’s recommendations on how to help prevent the spread of disease, like frequent hand washing, covering your mouth when you sneeze or cough, and staying at home when you have a fever. As always, we encourage customers to wash their fresh food at home.

We are asking customers to respect quantity limits of select, high-demand items like: disinfectant wipes and sprays, hand sanitizers and soaps, cough and cold medications, pain relief, first aid (alcohol and peroxide), and bottled water, to help ensure more customers will also be able to purchase the products that they need. Customers should check with their local store about specific stock levels and purchase limits. As products run low, we are replenishing them just as soon as the supply chain allows."

On March 13, the City of Austin confirmed there are now coronavirus cases in the Austin area. Bell County has also confirmed its first "presumptive positive" case. "Presumptive positive" means that a specimen tested locally and is positive, but the result has not yet been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

City leaders urged the Austin-area public to not "panic," but to prepare and practice personal hygiene. APH said the public is encouraged to limit the spread of the disease by following these practices: 

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands. 
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. 
  • Stay home when you are sick. 
  • Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue to cover it, then throw the tissue in the trash. 
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces


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