LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Los Angeles stores are seeing more customers stock up on essentials in the wake of rising fears about the spread of coronavirus.

Customers at a Costco in Van Nuys said the lines were unusually long – even for a Sunday – with some nearly 30 carts deep. Many shelves were also empty as people stocked up on food, water, and other essential items.

“I heard another person speaking out here that they’re out of Clorox, they’re out of wipes…” said Costco shopper Stephan Amirayan.

Some said that they are preparing in case they need to remain quarantined.

“I got water, tuna, and [other] stuff…” said Costco shopper Marceleno Martinez. “If something happens, we’re prepared.”

Other customers who were out for routine grocery shopping said they don’t understand why fears about the coronavirus would encourage people to gather outside of the house.

“I was asking the guy, ‘Why is it so busy today?’ He said that because of the coronavirus a lot more people are out,” said Pedram Aliasnik, who said he was out for a weekly shopping trip. “But it didn’t make any sense to me why more people would be out. If anything, they would stay home.”

At a local CVS, employees said they are sold out of hand sanitizer and face masks, with no stock left in the warehouse.

Coronavirus continues to spread in the U.S., as Washington State reported Saturday the first confirmed death from the virus in the country.

Two healthcare workers tested positive in Northern California after treating a patient and were told to self-quarantine. Orange County health officials declared a local health emergency in response to one confirmed case of coronavirus in the county.

There are 76 reported cases of coronavirus in the U.S., though CDC data from Feb. 29 confirms just 22. More than 88,000 people have contracted the virus and the death toll has surpassed 3,000 worldwide.

Federal officials said they think the virus is only spread through close contact, being within six feet of somebody with the virus for a prolonged period of time.

Health officials said the virus mainly spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, similar to how the flu spreads, and reminded people that the best way to protect against the coronavirus is to wash your hands with soap and water.

For the latest on the spread of coronavirus in Southern California and across the nation, click here.

Comments (4)
  1. peter tetteroo says:

    I went to this very same Costco today and can attest to the fact that this article is nonsense. I go to Costco all the time and people were buying the same stuff they always do. Paper towels, chickens, wine, shampoo.

  2. Susan says:

    The news Medea needs to be held accountable for their false reporting. I would be embarrassed if I had to say I worked for a news agency these days.

  3. Matthew Jones says:

    Confirmed. Ralphs was running low on water pallets. Costco in Torrance was packed like Christmas. Imagine what it’s going to be like when a major earthquake hits!

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