Shop 'normal,' don't panic buy food and supplies, Michigan officials urge during virus surge

grocery shopping
Photo credit Getty Images - FILE

(WWJ) State officials and some retailers are asking people to shop "normal" and not panic buy amid a surge in coronavirus cases in Michigan and nationwide.

Executives with the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, Michigan Retailers Association and Meijer says hoarding is bad for everyone.

“Michigan has an ample supply of food products and other items. But, when shoppers panic buy products like toilet paper, paper towel and other items, it creates a ripple effect within the supply chain,” said MDARD Director Gary McDowell. “Buying what your household will use for the week keeps the supply chain moving, ensures everyone has access to what they need and allows the stores to replenish shelves for your next shopping trip.”

McDowell said COVID-19 has changed everything about how people come together, especially with the holidays right around the corner.

“The impact of this pandemic has not been easy, and it is not over as we see rampant community spread,” he added. “One thing we can all do to help each other during this time is buying only what you need. This ensures your friends and neighbors have access to food and other necessary products during this pandemic.”

Officials have noticed evidence of consumers starting to panic shop in recent weeks, at the same levels first seen during the early months of the pandemic.

It's important to keep in mind that grocery and other essential stores have remained open throughout the pandemic.

And Michigan Retailers Association President and CEO William Hallan said they will not be closing.

“Retailers across the state continue to work hard to restore and maintain product levels in stores to meet the demand in communities,” said Hallan.

“Consumers need to know that stores, particularly grocery stores, will remain open. Consumers should plan for essentials in weekly increments to ensure that supply levels remain steady over the next few weeks. As retailers continue to do their part to keep retail environments safe to shop, we are asking consumers to do their part by limiting quantities to ensure there is enough for everyone.”

For anyone who is leery about shopping in person, Hallan encourages consumers to consider using services like curbside pick-up and home delivery.

Meijer, which has 120 Supercenters and grocery stores throughout the State of Michigan, continues to focus on keeping ample supply for its customers.

“Our goal is to have everything our customers need, and our supply chain and store teams are working very hard to keep our shelves stocked during these busy times,” said Todd Weer, Senior Vice President of stores for Meijer. “As long as shoppers buy the number of items they normally would, then everyone should be able to check off the items on their grocery list when they visit the store.”

This advice comes as the state is observing a "three week pause," by order of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

During this time, restaurants and bars are closed for indoor service. Casinos, movie theaters, bowling alleys and ice rinks are also shut down, and colleges and high schools are restricted to virtual learning.

More than 7,500 new confirmed coronavirus cases were reported by MDHHS on Thursday. And, as the state's hospitals are filling up with patients, the health department recorded 134 new deaths, including 61 identified during a Vital Records review.

The state's percent positive rate is now over 13%, up from under 3% during the summer. A total of 138,862 people who were infected in Michigan are now considered recovered.

The latest COVID-19 information -- including a breakdown of the numbers and details on how to get tested -- is available at Michigan.gov/Coronavirus.