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U.S. Health Officials Warn Consumers to Avoid Grocery Stores This Week

H-E-B president asks Texans to limit shopping trips to one household member
Official White House Photo by Andrea Hanks

With the COVID-19 pandemic predicted to worsen this week in parts of the country, White House Coronavirus Task Force leaders are urging Americans to contain trips to grocery stores and pharmacies to a bare minimum in an effort to reduce their risk of contracting and/or spreading the coronavirus.

During the coronavirus update briefing April 4, White House Coronavirus Task Force Response Coordinator Deborah Birx said, “The next two weeks are extraordinarily important” as “this is the moment to do everything that you can on the presidential guidelines. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not be going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe. And that means everybody doing the 6-feet distancing, washing your hands” and abiding by other best practices the task force is advising.

“We’re hoping and believing that if people mitigate strongly, the work that they did over the last two weeks will blunt [the] curve,” Brix noted, so at-risk states can avoid “the same upward slope and peak that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and part of Rhode Island are having.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and task force member, echoed Brix’s comments while emphasizing the importance of social distancing and urging Americans to be patient and let the mitigation efforts work. “Just make sure everybody does at least the minimal amount of that physical separation, because the virus has no place to go if you’re physically separated," he said. "As sobering and a difficult as this is, what we are doing is making a difference.”

Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, reinforced that message on his April 6 appearance on NBC’s “Today."

With grocery stores and pharmacies being among the few essential businesses permitted to remain open, Giroir, a medical doctor who is also a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said: “If we let our foot off the gas and start doing things that are ill-advised, we can have another peak in a few weeks.” However, he added, “That does not mean go without medications. If you need to go to the pharmacy to get your medications if you need to get groceries—do it. But do it as infrequently possible. Don’t go every day to the grocery store like many people do.” He instead reinforced his urging “to keep physical contact with others and physical surfaces to a minimum.”

H-E-B’s McClelland Speaks to Safer Social Distancing With One Shopper Per Family

Prior to the coronavirus task force’s latest guidance to avoid grocery stores this week, H-E-B President Scott McClelland asked Texans late last week to curb bringing entire families to the its stores to help curtail the outbreak.

“If you come to the store, don’t come with your entire family,” McClelland told Houston TV outlet KPRC.

“I was in the store yesterday and because people are bored, they’re like, ‘Hey, let’s all go to the grocery store.' So, a family of six showed up. Send one person, that way you lessen the ability for the virus to spread,” McClelland said, adding that while there’s nothing H-E-B likes more than “having a lot of people in the store, for now, our top priority is keeping our customers and our partners safe.”

At the end of day on April 6, there were at least 356,942 cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 10,524 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University’s tally of cases. The totals include cases from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and other U.S. territories, as well as all repatriated cases. Wyoming is the only state or territory that is not reporting a death from the coronavirus.

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