Kroger, other grocers begin limiting paper, cleaning purchases

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As the U.S. continues to lead the world in the number of confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths, some major grocery retail chains are reimposing limits on the number of paper supplies and disinfectant purchases.

Kroger customers are being allowed a maximum of two items when it comes to products such as bath tissue, paper towels, disinfecting wipes and hand soap. A spokesperson told CNN the limits began earlier this week and apply in stores and online.

Giant, a grocery chain in the Northeast, told the network it was “seeing little evidence of stockpiling, and there is no need to create panic.” Nonetheless, the retailer began limiting one purchase of larger toilet paper and paper towel sizes and four on smaller toilet paper and paper towel sizes. Those limits were imposed last week.

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H-E-B in Texas has implemented similar policies in recent weeks.

Almost 20% of paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels and 16% of household cleaning products were out of stock during the week ending Nov. 1, according to data from market research firm IRI.

The U.S. surpassed 10 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus Monday, the same day President-elect Joe Biden urged all Americans to wear a mask in an effort to contain the pandemic’s spread.

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The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine has been tracking the pandemic’s spread over the globe. New daily confirmed cases are up more than 60% during the last two weeks, to an average of nearly 109,000 a day. Average daily cases are on the rise in 48 states.

The U.S. accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s nearly 51 million confirmed cases. U.S. coronavirus deaths are up 18% during the last two weeks, averaging 939 every day. The virus has now killed more than 238,000 Americans.

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Public health officials warn the nation is entering the worst stretch yet for COVID-19 as winter sets in and the holiday season approaches, increasing the risk of rapid transmission as Americans travel, shop and celebrate with loved ones.

“The next two months are going to be rough, difficult ones,” said Dr. Albert Ko, an infectious disease specialist and department chairman at the Yale School of Public Health. “We could see another 100,000 deaths by January.”

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