Panic buying hits New York as first coronavirus case is found in NYC

Anxious shoppers have been pictured emptying shelves in New York supermarkets amid fears over the spread of coronavirus. 

Panic buying hit the city as New York had its first confirmed case of the virus on Sunday and the number of cases nationwide reached at least 77, with two patient deaths.

Two coronavirus-related deaths were confirmed in Kirkland, Washington state, as a resident at the Life Care Center nursing home and a patient at the EvergreenHealth hospital.

The spread of the disease, which began in China and has seen more than 89,000 cases worldwide and over 3,000 fatalities, has caused panic-buying in areas worst-hit by the outbreak.

Over the weekend videos emerged on social media of shoppers rushing to stock up on toilet paper, bottled water, disinfectant wipes and sanitizer at a Costco in Brooklyn, New York.

People were also seen scrambling to get hold of food at a Chinese supermarket in Flushing, Queens, on Sunday.

Shoppers stocking up on food at a Costco in Queens

Customers rushed to get their hands on essential items

In one social media video shoppers were seen stocking up on food at a Costco store in Flushing, Queens, on Sunday

Supermarket shelves are starting to be emptied as people prepare for the spread of coronavirus in New York. Pictured are shoppers on Sunday

Supermarket shelves are starting to be emptied as people prepare for the spread of coronavirus in New York. Pictured are shoppers on Sunday

Shoppers waiting outside a Costco in Brooklyn

People waited with carts to get inside the store

Customers queuing outside a Costco in Brooklyn, waiting to get inside due to the amount of people already in the store on Saturday 

Pictures of empty shelves at grocery stores elsewhere in New York also emerged over Saturday and Sunday.

Elsewhere in the US, such as California, Hawaii and Minnesota have also seen a run on essential items.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed the first coronavirus patient in New York with reports a woman is currently in Manhattan and has isolated herself at home.

A statement from the Cuomo’s office revealed the patient, an unidentified woman in her late 30s, contracted COVID-19 while traveling in Iran.

At least 77 patients in the US have now been confirmed to have coronavirus, after one was reported in Rhode Island and a fifth ‘unknown’ origin case was found in Chicago on Sunday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted that the deadly virus’ entrance into New York’s population of 19 million was a ‘matter of when, not if.’

On Saturday America’s top doctor begged people to stop panic-buying face masks, fearing a shortage could cause an even bigger threat if medical facilities could not access the product.

Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams tweeted: ‘Seriously people - STOP Buying MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!’

Adams also tweeted: ‘The best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness. 

Shoppers stock-piling in Flushing

People were seen scrambling to get goods at a Chinese supermarket on Sunday

Shoppers were seen in a video posted on Twitter panic-buying at a Chinese supermarket in Flushing, Queens on Sunday 

Shoppers rushed to stock-up on essential items at supermarkets across the US. Pictured are customers in New York on Sunday

Shoppers rushed to stock-up on essential items at supermarkets across the US. Pictured are customers in New York on Sunday 

Empty shelves were seen at some supermarkets in New York as fear of the spread of coronavirus gripped the city

Empty shelves were seen at some supermarkets in New York as fear of the spread of coronavirus gripped the city 

The number of Americans diagnosed with the virus has hit 77 and counting, after two 'presumptive positive' tests in Florida

The number of Americans diagnosed with the virus has hit 77 and counting, after two ‘presumptive positive’ tests in Florida

Panic buying in the United States does not yet resembles what Italy witnessed in recent days - where supermarket shelves were stripped bare and videos posted on social media showed consumers coming to blows over bags of pasta.

But there is a growing sense of urgency for people to stock up on staples and to prepare for lengthy home quarantines.

‘I’m buying some flu therapy and pain killers - If I wait until next week there may be nothing left,’ said Dean McKnight, a engineer in Austin, Texas, as he motioned to shelves at the HEB supermarket that were empty of several over-the-counter medications, primarily flu treatment for children.

McKnight worked in Hong Kong and China during the SARS outbreak and knows first-hand the stresses that snowballing fears of a pandemic can cause, but said he is not panicked.

He added: ‘We got an extra month’s worth of inhalers for my wife, but we’re not stocking up on medications or food as if we expect to need to secure several months of supplies right now.’  

Panic purchasing has been seen of masks and other personal protective gear. But there is also a looming threat to retail across the board, analysts said.

Several major retailers - including Walmart and Target - stand to see supply chains badly hit by the coronavirus and that could result in some empty store shelves starting in April, Ed Kelly, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in a research note this month. 

Empty shelves at a grocery store in New York. Shoppers have been stock-piling essential items over the weekend amid fears of the spreading virus

Empty shelves at a grocery store in New York. Shoppers have been stock-piling essential items over the weekend amid fears of the spreading virus 

Over the weekend pictures of empty shelves at grocery stores in New York emerged. Panic purchasing has been seen of masks and other personal protective gear as well as food items

Over the weekend pictures of empty shelves at grocery stores in New York emerged. Panic purchasing has been seen of masks and other personal protective gear as well as food items 

Reports said a woman in Manhattan is currently being isolated in her home. Pictured (above) are people wearing masks and buying hand sanitizer in Queens, New York, on Sunday

Reports said a woman in Manhattan is currently being isolated in her home. Pictured (above) are people wearing masks and buying hand sanitizer in Queens, New York, on Sunday 

Kelly wrote: ‘We believe the time to start worrying about the supply chain risk of 2019-nCoV is here. 

‘It’s worth noting that big box players like Target and Walmart could be the first to experience out of stock issues.’

That is because those stores operate on a just-in-time inventory model, and are highly dependent on China, where supply chains have been badly disrupted.

Stockpiling in states like Hawaii and Minnesota was spurred by messages from state health departments urging residents to buy supplies of non-perishable foods, prescription medications and sanitary supplies.

The advice contradicted the message from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

CDC Director Robert Redfield on Thursday told a US congressional hearing that there was no need for healthy Americans to stock up on any supplies.

Robyn Gershon, a clinical professor of epidemiology at New York University, said: ‘We should have one unified message. When there’s an absence of a good, strong and reassuring official voice, people will get more upset and start doing this magical thinking.’

On Friday in Honolulu, Hawaii, retired telecommunications worker Duane Tanouye, 62, waited in line outside a Costco with more than 200 other people.

‘Nobody’s really panicking, but there’s a lot more people than normal,’ Tanouye said by phone.

Stores in Hawaii had begun limiting how much consumers could buy of some products, such as toilet paper, he said.

Zhang Bin, right, walks with a friend along a street, both wearing protective masks in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles on Friday

Zhang Bin, right, walks with a friend along a street, both wearing protective masks in the Koreatown section of Los Angeles on Friday

Worried families blast Washington nursing home where one man has died from coronavirus and 50 more are ill for ‘not testing patients and ignoring phone calls’ - as it emerges facility has history of failing to control the spread of illness 

The Washington state nursing home where the second US man died from coronavirus was a resident was slammed by worried families as it emerged the facility had a history of failing to control the spread of illnesses. 

Other relatives of residents claimed their phone calls were not be anserwed by staff as their concerns mounted. 

Six coronavirus cases were confirmed at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, including the resident in his 70s who later died at hospital.

More than 50 staff and residents have shown symptoms and will be tested, officials said on Sunday.

The man in his 70s had underlying health conditions and died at the EvergreenHealth hospital in on Saturday.

This is the same hospital where a man in his 50s died on Friday night to become the US’s first coronavirus-related death.

Medics and other healthcare workers transferring a patient on a stretcher to an ambulance at the Life Care Center nursing home on Sunday

Medics and other healthcare workers transferring a patient on a stretcher to an ambulance at the Life Care Center nursing home on Sunday

Fears over the safety and care of residents now on lockdown within the care home come as it is revealed that the facility has a history of failing to take adequate steps to control the spread of illness

Fears over the safety and care of residents now on lockdown within the care home come as it is revealed that the facility has a history of failing to take adequate steps to control the spread of illness

Around 27 of the 108 residents and 25 of the 180 staff have shown some symptoms of the virus, including some cases where individuals had contracted pneumonia.

A scientist in Washington State believes coronavirus may have been spreading for six weeks before it was detected, and there could be a ‘few hundred’ people currently infected amid an ‘already substantial outbreak’. 

Trevor Bedford of the University of Washington said the illness has likely spread within the community as none of the people confirmed to be infected had recently traveled.

Bedford said a team at the Seattle Flu Study had compared the first reported case of COVID-19 in the United States to the second case, and found that it was on the same evolutionary tree. 

Scientists not affiliated with the research said the results did not necessarily surprise them and pointed out that for many people - especially younger, healthier ones - the symptoms are not much worse than a flu or bad cold. 

So far, there are at least five reported cases nationwide where authorities do not know how the virus was contracted, according to the federal government - one in Chicago, one in Washington State, one in Oregon, and two in California 

Health officials in Washington state said Sunday night that a man in his 70s had died - and he had previously been a resident at a nursing facility near Seattle where dozens of people were sick and had been tested for the virus

Health officials in Washington state said Sunday night that a man in his 70s had died - and he had previously been a resident at a nursing facility near Seattle where dozens of people were sick and had been tested for the virus

On Sunday it was reported that the third case of coronavirus was confirmed in Illinois.

Officials said that the two other Illinois patients found to have the coronavirus have since made a full recovery.

Also on Sunday, the Rhode Island Department of Health announced the first presumptive positive case of coronavirus. The patient in their 40s had traveled to Italy in mid-February.

On Sunday Night, the Florida Department of Health confirmed two patients have tested ‘presumptive positive’ for coronavirus.

One is a resident of Hillsborough County, while the other is from of Manatee County. Both have been isolated.

The Trump administration on Saturday announced measures aimed at curbing the spread of coronavirus, including new restrictions on Americans and other who have traveled to Iran.

The government is also advising citizens against travel to certain parts of Italy and South Korea, where significant outbreaks of the pathogen have been reported.