Shoppers visit a Costco Wholesale in Tigard, Ore., Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020, after reports of Oregon’s first case of coronavirus was announced in the nearby Oregon city of Lake Oswego on Friday. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)
TORONTO — People appear to be lining up in droves at Costco stores across Canada and the U.S. as more cases of the novel coronavirus pop up across North America.
Many took to social media to share images of the crowded stores, including locations in B.C., where customers can be seen waiting in long lines both inside and outside Costco. David Chen tweeted on Sunday, “Costco at 9 am. #COVID19 fears spread. People stocking up worse than Christmas.”
— David Chen, concerned citizen (@DavidChenTweets) March 1, 2020
Elizabeth Mazzei tweeted about long lines at a Costco in Burnaby, B.C. on Saturday. She said, “The line extends the entire length of Costco and around the aisle.”
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In Vancouver, canned goods such as Spam and black beans were in short supply on Friday, according to a report from CTV News Vancouver. Lysol disinfectant wipes and toilet paper were also in high demand.
There have also been reports of long lines at stores in Toronto and in parts of York Region. Health officials in the latter community reported its first case of COVID-19 on Saturday.
Across the border, a video on Twitter shows customers waiting in line to enter a Costco location in Brooklyn, N.Y.
— Dr. Dong Shen (@vote4dongshen) February 29, 2020
Karen Weise, a technology correspondent for the New York Times, shared a photo on Twitter of long lines at a Costco north of Seattle. She tweeted, “Really should have done my regular Costco run last week. I’ve never seen it like this.”
In California, one Costco store saw more than 500 customers within the first 30 minutes of the store opening, according to KPIX-TV.
The south San Francisco location sold out of bottled water and toilet paper within a few hours.
Twitter user Jpuma55 shared images of empty shelves, refrigeration units and long lines at a Costco in San Francisco’s Bay Area on Saturday.
“People are seriously freaking out about the coronavirus. I’ve never seen Costco so busy. Even on Black Friday or Christmas season. They’re out of Kirkland cases of waters, toilet paper, meat in general and other things,” he tweeted.
People are seriously freaking out about the Corona virus. I’ve never seen Costco so busy. Even on black Friday or Christmas season. They’re out of Kirkland cases of waters, toilet paper, meat in general and other things…. pic.twitter.com/5gVJTJ7Jjj
— Jonathan 49er Faithful (@Jpuma55) February 29, 2020
While most of these stores have reported they will restock within the next day, employees anticipate customers will continue to stock up. CTVNews.ca has reached out to Costco for comment, but had not heard back as of publish time.
Canada’s Health Minister Patty Hajdu, said stocking up on supplies would be wise for Canadians to do in the event of an emergency.
"It’s really about, first of all, making sure that you do have enough supplies so if someone in your family becomes ill, if you yourself become ill, that you have what you need to survive for a week or so without going outside,” Hajdu said to the media on Wednesday.
There are 20 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Canada as of Sunday afternoon. In the U.S., health officials have reported 60 confirmed cases and one death – a man in Washington state.
With files from CTV News Vancouver
I was in the neighborhood so I decided to pop in at the Burnaby @costcocanada panacea seems to have created a doomsday scenario. The line extends the entire length of Costco and around the aisle. Been like this for over a week. #COVID19pic.twitter.com/1WtylOo9VH
— Elizabeth Mazzei (@Exodus_Wellness) February 29, 2020
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