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Shoppers stock up at Costco amid coronavirus fears

Posted at 6:28 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 21:50:01-05

People nationwide, even on the Central Coast, are heading to stores like Costco to stock up on essentials out of concern over the coronavirus.

There are no reported cases of coronavirus in San Luis Obispo County or Santa Barbara County, but as we learn about more cases in the United States, people are buying things like Clorox products, rice and bottled water in bulk in case COVID-19 is detected locally.

Willie Stubblefiled, a Cayucos resident, went on his second Costco run in four days on Monday. He said he's trying to minimize any risk of exposure by stocking up.

For him and his wife, the spread of coronavirus is scary. He knows the deaths related to coronavirus in the United States have been eldery people with underlying heath issues.

"For my wife, she has some pretty serious respiratory issues, and we're just hoping to minimize and do only trips that are necessary and we've been trying to figure out what might minimize those trips to the store," Stubblefield said.

Other Costco shoppers in San Luis Obispo said some items like rice and gallons of water were gone.

"Well, I wanted it for our cabin but also because of the coronavirus and everybody saying you need to have a little bit extra and since we have a place in the mountains, I thought I would get some extra, but there is no extra to get," said Kristi Doolin, Costco shopper.

Costco stores have been selling out across the country, as people line up to fill their carts.

It's the reason Stubblefield showed up an hour before his local store opened.

"I was afraid that we were possibly going to have longer lines and be out of some of the key items," Stubblefield said.

"The public has received mixed messages in recent days about what it means to prepare for a potential outbreak in their communities and, along with an increase in U.S. cases, it's understandable why some are experiencing anxiety," said Jennifer Shay, San Luis Obispo County Public Health spokesperson. "While concern and reasonable preparation are appropriate, fear-driven hoarding is unnecessary and only spreads more anxiety in the community."

KSBY reached out to Costco managers but they declined to comment.

Here's what you need to know about coronavirus from health officials:

  • Most people recover if infected and in mild cases, sometimes it's not even noticed.
  • So far, reported deaths in the U.S. have been elderly people with underlying health conditions.
  • The virus is mostly spread through droplets so be careful about coughing or shaking hands.
  • You don't have to worry about drinking tap water or receiving packages from China.