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Empty shelves at a West Valley City Albertson's store.
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Utah Grocery Stores Rush to Restock Shelves

SOUTH JORDAN, Utah — Utah grocery stores were struggling to keep up with people who are stocking up with supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“It was mayhem — definitely,” said South Jordan resident Jennifer Smith. “All the shelves are completely bare. No toilet paper. No sanitary wipes. No nothing.”

Many were concerned not just about the availability of food but also about items for their children like diapers, baby wipes, medicine and baby formula.

“I have a sister who has three kids in diapers and she has no diapers, no baby wipes, no formula,” Smith said. “My mom is going up to Heber to go find diapers.”

Shoppers said it’s disturbing to see empty shelves and that they’re feeling a sense of urgency while shopping.

“Milk was definitely running out,” said Lehi resident Elaine Maxfield. “I texted a neighbor who is sick and was just like, ‘Do you need anything?’ And they needed milk and that’s why I was grabbling milk.”

Maxfield said she couldn’t find bread to purchase so she ended up buying several bags of frozen dinner rolls as an alternative.

Those out grocery shopping on Thursday evening were met with empty shelves and 90-minute waits to checkout in some areas of Utah. By Friday afternoon, the frenzy seemed to have calmed.

“It was busy but nothing like I expected,” said Lindon resident Wayne Corbridge, who stopped by a Harmons grocery store in South Jordan. “There wasn’t a frenzy. Some of the shelves were empty. Paper goods, toilet paper, sanitizer — there’s not much of that left, but everything else there seemed to be plenty of.”

Corporate offices of several large grocery store chains released statements about their efforts to keep up with the demand for critical items.

“Our top priority is the health and safety of our customers, associates and community,” said Dean Peterson, CEO and president of Harmons grocery stores. “We are proud to source our products locally and our associates are dedicated to help keep products available and accessible for our customers.”


Kroger, the parent company of Smith’s and Smith’s Marketplace, is implementing temporary hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. at all locations. The company is also limiting the number of cold, flu and sanitary products a customer can purchase in a single transaction.

“Our supply chain teams are working to ensure that the food, medicine and cleaning supplies our customers need are reaching our stores as quickly as possible,” Kroger officials said in a statement.


Walmart said paper products and cleaning supplies are in high demand because of COVID-19.

“We are working to replenish those items quickly, including diverting products to areas of the country where they are needed most and routing deliveries directly to stores,” Walmart said in a statement. “We have also authorized our store managers to manage their inventory, including the discretion to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand.”

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Your Life Your Health: How can parents prepare their home, children against coronavirus?

How Do I Prevent It?

The CDC has some simple recommendations, most of which are the same for preventing other respiratory illnesses or the flu:

  • Avoid close contact with people who may be sick
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

The CDC does not recommend wearing a facemask respirator to protect yourself from coronavirus unless a healthcare professional recommends it.

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