Op-Ed: NYS Needs to Address Panic Supermarket Buying

Greenburgh Town Supervisor Paul Feiner

If we are shutting down almost everything to discourage human contact why are crowded supermarkets OK?  

A sneeze in a supermarket is just as bad as a sneeze on Broadway

In recent days NYS and other states have tried to address the coronavirus crisis by encouraging people to avoid large crowds. Schools, colleges have been shut down, sports events have been cancelled, Broadway theaters have gone dark and more employees are working from home, avoiding subways and trains. Yet–the supermarkets are overcrowded with people who are close together, panic buying. Every shopper who is in a supermarket over-packed with shoppers is increasing the chances of getting infected and infecting others. I was at Shoprite on Central Ave tonight and last night. The parking lot was packed. I did not go in. I heard that the lines during the day were enormous.

I believe that NYS officials need to address the problem. If a supermarket is packed with hundreds of people (and shoppers are within six feet of each other) they can spread the virus. In the UK some supermarkets, facing the same problem, have started to ration food because panic buying left shelves empty. There is no need to buy more than needed. A sneeze and cough in an over packed supermarket is just as bad as a sneeze in a school, Broadway show or train. 

Supermarkets need to let people know that there is no need to hoard groceries and essential. They won’t run out of food.  

Another suggestion: NYS should work with supermarkets and on online delivery companies to make sure that they can meet the demands of a growing number of people who will be in self-isolation. We need to reassure people that if they are placed in isolation they won’t starve.

We can beat coronavirus if people don’t infect others. As part of the plan to stop the spread of the virus we must find a way to end panic shopping.

Paul Feiner
Greenburgh Town Supervisor

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