The bulk goods store and other shopping centers were packed with people stocking up on water and food in case of quarantine

By Julie Mazziotta
March 02, 2020 06:23 PM
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Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty

Shoppers filled bulk goods stores like Costco over the weekend to stock up on water and food amid concerns that Americans will soon be under a coronavirus quarantine.

Reports of long lines and empty shelves came on social media and in local news, though experts say that there is no need to panic, and that stocking up is not necessary.

Still, at the Brooklyn Costco, shoppers lined up outside the store before it opened on Sunday to pick up water and food, the New York Post reported.

“The coronavirus has them panicked … they think the world is coming to an end,” the store’s manager told the outlet. “This is great for business, though!”

Out on the west coast, the scene was similar. At a Los Angeles Costco, general manager Thad Kleszcz said the number of shoppers shot up on Friday and Saturday, after the first death in the U.S. was reported in Washington state.

“Antiseptic wipes and Clorox disinfecting wipes are flying out of here,” he told the Los Angeles Times. “We can’t keep those in stock.”

PEOPLE has contacted Costco for comment.

However, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control, told Congress on Thursday that healthy Americans do not need to stock up on supplies at this time.

And there are no concerns right now that the U.S. will run out of water or food as the disease spreads worldwide.

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The one item that is selling out, though, is face masks. Online and brick-and-mortor retailers like Amazon and Home Depot are out of masks, and health care professionals who need the masks are having trouble purchasing them.

The shortage led U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams to urge Americans to “STOP BUYING MASKS.”

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!” he posted on Twitter Saturday.

“The best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness,” he added. “Get your #FluShot– fewer flu patients = more resources for #COVID19.”

Amazon said they have since removed tens of thousands of deals from sellers who had raised prices on the masks they still had in stock, and were not adhering to the site’s “fair pricing” guidelines.

“We have absolutely enforced the policy,” an Amazon spokesperson told CBS. “We identify them and quickly take action.”