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March 18, 2020

Grocery stores allowing seniors to shop early to reduce coronavirus risk

Some retailers extending exclusive hours to pregnant women, people with autoimmune diseases

Retailers Coronavirus
Coronavirus senior shopping hours whole foods Thom Carroll/for PhillyVoice

Some retail stores, including Whole Foods, Target, Giant, Acme, Fresh Market, Dollar General and Stop and Shop, are dedicating exclusive time for seniors to shop during the coronavirus pandemic. Some also are permitting pregnant women and people with autoimmune disorders to participate.

Grocery stores in the Philadelphia region are taking measures to protect the people most vulnerable to severe coronavirus cases. 

Whole Foods, Giant and Acme are among stores that are adding exclusive shopping hours for adults ages 60 and older. Some stores also are allowing pregnant women and people with autoimmune diseases to shop during the special hours.

The allotted time will allow for these groups to practice safe social distancing. 

All Whole Foods stores are now allowing seniors to shop one hour before the stores regular operating hours. Additionally, all stores are closing two hours early to allow workers to sanitize and re-stock the shelves. 

Dollar General is dedicating its first hour of business to seniors. Beginning Thursday, Giant will allows seniors to shop between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. Stop and Shop will allow them to shop from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. while also having a separate entrance for seniors. 

Acme, along with all Albertsons Company stores, will open every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. to the elderly, people with compromised immune systems and pregnant women. These groups also will be able to shop at Fresh Market for the first hour of operations, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday.

Target is reserving its first hour for seniors and other at-risk groups on Wednesdays. The retailer is asking shoppers to respect this dedicated time for those who need to practice social distancing. Additionally, all stores will close by 9 p.m. until further notice.

Older people and those with underlying health conditions, including heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, appear to be at a greater risk for developing a serious case of COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Patients ages 80 and up have a 14.8% mortality rate, while those in their 70s have an 8% mortality rate, according to initial data from China, where the pandemic began. Coronavirus patients in their 60s have a 3.6% mortality rate.

There is no known treatment for COVID-19 and a vaccine is expected to take at least a year to develop.

Health experts stress that the best way to prevent illness is to practice good hand hygiene, avoid close contact with sick individuals, and frequently disinfect common surfaces and objects. 

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