- Shoppers have been seen scrambling for groceries at supermarkets in Brooklyn and Queens in New York
- Social media videos have emerged of people panic buying at a Chinese supermarket in Flushing, Queens
- Empty shelves were seen in grocery stores around New York amid fears of the spread of the coronavirus
- New York had its first case of the virus confirmed on Sunday as the national cases hit 103, with six deaths
- Two deaths confirmed in Kirkland, Washington, as patients at Life Care Center and EvergreenHealth hospital
Panic buying has hit the U.S. with anxious shoppers clearing supermarket shelves as they stock up on food and medical supplies after the number of confirmed coronavirus cases across the country soared to 103.
People started stockpiling items from stores across the country over the weekend as health officials confirmed the first two people had died in the United States from coronavirus.
The two coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed in Washington state and included a resident at the Life Care Center nursing home and a patient at the EvergreenHealth hospital.
The spread of the disease, which began in China and has seen more than 89,000 cases worldwide and over 3,000 fatalities, prompted panic-buying ever since health authorities warned that Americans should start preparing for domestic acceleration of the virus.
Videos emerged on social media over the weekend of shoppers rushing to stock up on toilet paper, bottled water, disinfectant wipes and sanitizer from California to New York.
Shoppers were pictured lining up outside supermarkets in Brooklyn on Monday morning as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed details about the state’s first case and warned that the city would be testing for community spread.
‘I fully expect to find community spread. You can’t have it in this many places on the globe and in this many places in the country and it not be in New York,’ he said.
Shoppers at Costco in Brooklyn line up to enter the store on Monday morning to stock up on supplies
Pictures of empty shelves at grocery stores elsewhere in New York also emerged on the weekend, and shoppers weren’t letting up on Monday as hordes gathered outside Costco in Brooklyn waiting for the doors to open
This morning, shoppers once again lined up at the supermarket as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned that the city will be testing for community spread.
Supplies have been flying off the shelves countrywide with people posting photos on social media showing the lack of products available in some stores and pharmacies.
In Southern California, some Walgreens stores had been completely depleted of cough medicines, cold and flue medications, vaporizers, masks and thermometers.
Shoppers in Hawaii were buying up flatbeds of canned goods, bottled water, toilet paper and paper towels from a local Costo. A supermarket aisle in Virginia had been stripped of non-perishable items like pasta.
Pictures of empty shelves at grocery stores elsewhere in New York also emerged on the weekend.
It came as Gov. Cuomo confirmed that the first coronavirus patient in New York was healthcare worker who is currently isolated in her Manhattan home.
A statement from the Cuomo’s office revealed the patient, an unidentified woman in her late 30s, contracted COVID-19 while traveling in Iran.
At least 91 patients in the US have now been confirmed to have coronavirus, after one was reported in Rhode Island and a fifth ‘unknown’ origin case was found in Chicago on Sunday.
Cuomo admitted that the deadly virus’ entrance into New York’s population of 19 million was a ‘matter of when, not if.’
On Saturday, America’s top doctor begged people to stop panic-buying face masks, fearing a shortage could cause an even bigger threat if medical facilities could not access the product.
Surgeon General Dr Jerome Adams tweeted: ‘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!’
‘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.
Patrons with shopping carts loaded with tissue and water wait in checkout queues at a very busy Costco in Miami, Florida
Shoppers at a Costco in Miami stock up on water, which was limited to five cases per membership account
Shoppers at Costco in Brooklyn panic buy water, tissues and cleaning products after New York confirmed its first case of coronavirus
People gather as street vendor Mike James sells them surgical mask, hand sanitizer and alcohol in Flushing, Queens on Monday
Supermarket shelves are starting to be emptied as people prepare for the spread of coronavirus in New York. Pictured are shoppers on Sunday
In one social media video shoppers were seen stocking up on food at a Costco store in Flushing, Queens, on Sunday
Shoppers were seen in a video posted on Twitter panic-buying at a Chinese supermarket in Flushing, Queens on Sunday
Shoppers rushed to stock-up on essential items at supermarkets across the US. Pictured are customers in New York on Sunday
Empty shelves were seen at some supermarkets in New York as fear of the spread of coronavirus gripped the city
The number of Americans diagnosed with the virus has hit 77 over the weekend, but has now climbed to 86
US stock markets open higher on Monday
The US stock market opened higher Monday morning after concerns surrounding the coronavirus outbreak led to the worst week on Wall Street since 2008.
The Dow Jones Industrial average went up 181 points or 0.7 per cent at opening bell, the S&P 500 was up 0.3 per cent, 10 points, while the Nasdaq Composite was 1.2 per cent higher, at the open, up 100 points.
Friday marked seven straight days of losses and the biggest weekly drop since the 2008 global financial crisis.
Mounting concerns about the economic impact of the new coronavirus outbreak had seen some gains in European stock markets wiped out Monday despite hopes of stimulus measures from major central banks.
The sheer scale of losses last week — almost $6 trillion was wiped off world stocks — have led financial markets to price in policy responses from almost every major central bank.
Investors were left reeling after virus fears wiped nearly $3 trillion off the combined market value of S&P 500 companies last week, with the index confirming its fastest correction in history in volatile trading on Thursday.
The coronavirus epidemic, which began in the Chinese province of Hubei, has killed 3,000 people worldwide.
Panic buying in the United States does not yet resembles what Italy witnessed in recent days – where supermarket shelves were stripped bare and videos posted on social media showed consumers coming to blows over bags of pasta.
But there is a growing sense of urgency for people to stock up on staples and to prepare for lengthy home quarantines.
‘I’m buying some flu therapy and pain killers – If I wait until next week there may be nothing left,’ said Dean McKnight, a engineer in Austin, Texas, as he motioned to shelves at the HEB supermarket that were empty of several over-the-counter medications, primarily flu treatment for children.
McKnight worked in Hong Kong and China during the SARS outbreak and knows first-hand the stresses that snowballing fears of a pandemic can cause, but said he is not panicked.
He added: ‘We got an extra month’s worth of inhalers for my wife, but we’re not stocking up on medications or food as if we expect to need to secure several months of supplies right now.’
Panic purchasing has been seen of masks and other personal protective gear. But there is also a looming threat to retail across the board, analysts said.
Several major retailers – including Walmart and Target – stand to see supply chains badly hit by the coronavirus and that could result in some empty store shelves starting in April, Ed Kelly, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in a research note this month.
Kelly wrote: ‘We believe the time to start worrying about the supply chain risk of 2019-nCoV is here.
‘It’s worth noting that big box players like Target and Walmart could be the first to experience out of stock issues.’
That is because those stores operate on a just-in-time inventory model, and are highly dependent on China, where supply chains have been badly disrupted.
Stockpiling in states like Hawaii and Minnesota was spurred by messages from state health departments urging residents to buy supplies of non-perishable foods, prescription medications and sanitary supplies.
The advice contradicted the message from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
CDC Director Robert Redfield on Thursday told a US congressional hearing that there was no need for healthy Americans to stock up on any supplies.
Robyn Gershon, a clinical professor of epidemiology at New York University, said: ‘We should have one unified message. When there’s an absence of a good, strong and reassuring official voice, people will get more upset and start doing this magical thinking.’
On Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii, retired telecommunications worker Duane Tanouye, 62, waited in line outside a Costco with more than 200 other people.
‘Nobody’s really panicking, but there’s a lot more people than normal,’ Tanouye said by phone.
Stores in Hawaii had begun limiting how much consumers could buy of some products, such as toilet paper, he said.
The Washington state nursing home where the second US man died from coronavirus was a resident was slammed by worried families as it emerged the facility had a history of failing to control the spread of illnesses.
Other relatives of residents claimed their phone calls were not be anserwed by staff as their concerns mounted.
Six coronavirus cases were confirmed at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, including the resident in his 70s who later died at hospital.
More than 50 staff and residents have shown symptoms and will be tested, officials said on Sunday.
The man in his 70s had underlying health conditions and died at the EvergreenHealth hospital in on Saturday.
This is the same hospital where a man in his 50s died on Friday night to become the US’s first coronavirus-related death.
Around 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have shown some symptoms of the virus, including some cases where individuals had contracted pneumonia.
A scientist in Washington State believes coronavirus may have been spreading for six weeks before it was detected, and there could be a ‘few hundred’ people currently infected amid an ‘already substantial outbreak’.
Trevor Bedford of the University of Washington said the illness has likely spread within the community as none of the people confirmed to be infected had recently traveled.
Bedford said a team at the Seattle Flu Study had compared the first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States to the second case, and found that it was on the same evolutionary tree.
‘It’s possible that this genetic similarity is a coincidence and these are separate introductions. However, I believe this is highly unlikely. The WA1 case had a variant at site 18060. This variant is only present in 2/59 viruses from China,’ Bedford said.
‘I’d assess the p-value for this coincidence at 2/59=0.03 and so is statistically significant. Additionally, these two cases are geographically proximal, both residing in Snohomish County.
Medics and other healthcare workers transferring a patient on a stretcher to an ambulance at the Life Care Center nursing home on Sunday
Fears over the safety and care of residents now on lockdown within the care home come as it is revealed that the facility has a history of failing to take adequate steps to control the spread of illness
Health officials in Washington state said Sunday night that a man in his 70s had died – and he had previously been a resident at a nursing facility near Seattle where dozens of people were sick and had been tested for the virus
‘I believe we’re facing an already substantial outbreak in Washington State that was not detected until now due to narrow case definition requiring direct travel to China.’
Scientists not affiliated with the research said the results did not necessarily surprise them and pointed out that for many people – especially younger, healthier ones – the symptoms are not much worse than a flu or bad cold.
So far, there are at least five reported cases nationwide where authorities do not know how the virus was contracted, according to the federal government – one in Chicago, one in Washington State, one in Oregon, and two in California
On Sunday it was reported that the third case of coronavirus was confirmed in Illinois.
Officials said that the two other Illinois patients found to have the coronavirus have since made a full recovery.
Also on Sunday, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus. The patient in their 40s had traveled to Italy in mid-February.
On Sunday Night, the Florida Department of Health confirmed two patients have tested ‘presumptive positive’ for coronavirus.
One is a resident of Hillsborough County, while the other is from of Manatee County. Both have been isolated.
The Trump administration on Saturday announced measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, including new restrictions on Americans and other who have traveled to Iran.
The government is also advising citizens against travel to certain parts of Italy and South Korea, where significant outbreaks of the pathogen have been reported.
Virus claims more than 3,000 lives worldwide as flights from US to Italy are suspended
Worldwide, the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China has sickened at least 88,583 people and killed more than 3,000 in 54 countries.
The US will start screening travelers for coronavirus and ramp up production of masks and test kits as the government scrambles to reassure Americans while the disease spreads and businesses cancel conferences and flights.
Donald Trump said on Sunday that travelers to the United States from countries at high risk of coronavirus would be screened before boarding and upon arrival, without specifying which countries.
Delta Air Lines on Sunday said it is suspending until May flights to Milan in northern Italy where most of that country’s coronavirus cases have been reported. Flights will continue to Rome. American Airlines Group Inc announced a similar move late on Saturday.
The United States has imposed limits on travelers who have visited Iran and recommended against travel to hard-hit areas of Italy and South Korea.
Mike Pence, whom Trump appointed last week to run the White House’s coronavirus response, said Americans should brace for more cases, but that the ‘vast majority’ of those who contracted the disease would recover
Mexico has reported four coronavirus cases. Its foreign ministry said on Saturday that both governments are in ‘close and effective communication, especially the health authorities.’
Meanwhile in Australia, the first human-to-human transfer of COVID-19 has been confirmed as the number of cases in the country hit 31. Tasmania has also confirmed its first case of the virus.
Vice President Mike Pence said the government had contracted 3M Co to produce an extra 35 million respiratory masks a month. He urged Americans not to buy the masks, which he said were only needed by healthcare workers. Honeywell International Inc is the other major U.S. mask producer.
Pence, named by the president to be the point-person overseeing the government’s response, said more than 15,000 virus testing kits had been released over the weekend. And, the administration is working with a commercial provider to distribute 50,000 more, he said.
The vice president said testing was among the first issues raised by governors he’s spoken with so far. Several states have begun their own testing, including Washington state, Oregon and Illinois.