Health officials advice to avoid grocery stores, pharmacies as peak of COVID-19 pandemic looms

“This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store or the pharmacy but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe,” said Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the Coronavirus Task Force.

She made the remarks over the weekend as the country expected to hit an apex of coronavirus cases. Advice reiterated Monday by L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti during his daily briefing:

“If there's any way to stay at home we want them to stay at home,” Garcetti said.

But at this Ralph’s in Downey a steady stream of people were still shopping some more carefully than others.

“We’re definitely going to try to stay as safe as we can but you can’t find masks. You can’t find anything right now,” said Pico Rivera resident David medina.

He says he was aware of the ominous warnings:

“You can see we are trying to get what we can before the weekend comes, try to avoid it all and stay home.”

Earlier, it was a much busier scene at this Walmart in Santa Ana where a pre-recorded safe shopping announcement was played over a speaker in the parking lot.

Shoppers like Dat Nguyen was among those braving the rain. 

“I think to try to limit to go out as soon as possible because I know the number of the case is going up every day," said Dat Nguyen. 

But he says needed a few staples so he put on his mask and came to Walmart:

“I try to go shop and get for 3-4 days so just try to limit the time go now, stay home more,” Nguyen said. 

Others are avoiding the stores all together by using delivery services. In fact, Instacart says it’s seeing the highest customer demand in its history with volume up more than 150% year-over-year. The company says it’s Apple app store downloads are surging by 7x this week alone.

Despite those encouraging numbers, there are still some consumers who say they just can’t wait. 

“We need food! We were low on stock so we gotta stock up right now,” said Hector Rodriguez. 

The warning to stay home comes as the country is expected to hit the apex of cases in the next few weeks and as the number of confirmed cases in L.A. County crosses 6-thousand. But in Los Angeles, the mayor says we are still on track to peak in late April early May.