coronavirus

Virus Fears Clear Shelves at Chicago Big-Box Stores

While there have been no reports telling people to stock up on things like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, many people are filling their baskets with the items anyway.

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With coronavirus concerns building, Elise Reilly and her brother Matt Kaye came to the Costco in Niles with a couple extra items on their shopping list.

“Some toilet paper, dish soap, hand soap, that sort of stuff,” Kaye said.

But after waiting in lines that some shoppers said were more than an hour long, Kaye found no toilet paper, soap or rice. “A little bit of a rush here today,” he said.

That same rush could be found at a number of big-box stores around the Chicago area where shoppers hoped to stock up on basic items after President Donald Trump's address Wednesday night on the coronavirus and the cancellation of major sporting events nationwide.

“I think it’s something to be conscious and aware of, but I don’t think we are going to lose our minds over it,” said Jeff Frederigo, as he loaded his car with a mix of stock-up items and his family’s regular weekend shopping list. Frederigo said a text from a friend showing empty shelves at a Target store prompted him to shop Thursday.

Frederigo described the Costco he had come from as more crowded than normal, but he said the parking lot was worse.

Erica Estrada called the situation ridiculous.

“There is no toilet paper, no wipes and people are getting very nervous,” Estrada said. “Everybody is pushing each other.”

While there have been no reports telling people to stock up on things like toilet paper and disinfectant wipes, many people are filling their baskets with the items anyway.

At a Streeterville Walgreens Thursday morning, an employee filled empty shelves of disinfectant with a new supply from a pallet of product that stood as tall as he was. Stores are re-supplying but are having trouble keeping up with demand.

“Everybody is bumping into you; everybody is nervous,” Carol Danielli said as she pushed her cart through a Target parking lot. “They are grabbing things they probably don’t need.”

Danielli said the Costco she had just come from in Niles had plenty of water but was running low on some cuts of meat. She too was doing some stocking up along with her regular weekend groceries, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

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