Coronavirus has surged across the world and has been responsible for more than 50 deaths in the U.S.
Bans have been instituted for restaurants, bars, gyms, and any other social gathering involving more than 50 people. Retail operations remain open, and people are strongly encour- aged to keep distances from others when in the community, and especially in stores. Residents of the various communities the Islip Bulletin covers have altered their actions in the community.
While interviewing local residents exiting Pat’s Marketplace in East Islip on Saturday afternoon, a reporter asked shoppers loading their cars with the groceries they had just purchased about their shopping experience. By 2:30 p.m., shoppers indicated that there were not many paper products or disinfectants left, but not completely empty.
Andrea Reyes, an East Islip resident, said she was not shopping for those items on Saturday as she already had enough.
“I bought [our paper products] a couple weeks ago and still have them. And I also get them at Costco, so I have [plenty] of them,” Reyes said, adding that the lines at Pat’s Marketplace were not bad and chalked that up to the store’s adequate staffing on Saturday.
“I heard this store was the best [in terms of staffing and various products available], so that is why I came here,” she said. “People in town said that Stop & Shop was not that great [in terms of how much stock was left], so I just came here.”
All other residents interviewed said they were not shopping for paper products nor disinfectants, but also noted those shelves were almost empty as well as a relatively quick line at the register.
A couple approaching Stop & Shop on Montauk Highway in Bay Shore expressed concern regarding how close everyone is while inside grocery stores.
“I am concerned when you walk into the supermarkets where there is a crowd of people,” said Eric Cruz, a Bay Shore resident. “And the lines: You have a lot of people that are confined to a certain area, and nobody is wearing a mask. You could be sick, and you don’t even know.”
Cruz emphasized the importance of having the ability to get tested for the coronavirus and ensuring that anyone who is sick has the physical and financial access to a test.
“Hopefully, this whole thing will go away the same way it came in. The important thing is to get tested,” Cruz said.
Thelma Cruz, alongside Eric, pointed out her anxiety and the precautions necessary to take while at the gas station.
“When you pump gas, you have to wear gloves when you do that because you don’t know who was pumping before you,” said Thelma Cruz.
East Islip residents Katie Manieri and Melissa Smith, walking on East Main Street, said they are avoiding locations involving large crowds as much as they can; issues involving grocery stores were mentioned in conversation.
“I’m glad that they are taking the measures that they are doing to ensure that it doesn’t spread, but I also think the media and social media are causing this widespread panic, where people are going to the stores and buying stuff [as if] this is the zombie apocalypse,” Smith said.
Manieri added upon Smith’s sentiment regarding people overbuying particular products.
“You can’t even go into [the grocery store] to get what you literally need,” Manieri said.
To limit a flood at the registers, both suggested enacting shifts for who can enter the grocery store at certain times, perhaps breaking it down by hyperlocal neighborhoods or street blocks. The suggestion brings forth the limitation on a store’s occupancy at a given time, while ensuring all local residents have access to the products they would like to purchase at their most proximous grocery store.