Walmart, Kroger, Publix among stores changing hours amid COVID-19 pandemic

Posted at 10:02 PM, Mar 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-15 11:43:24-04

Several of America's largest retailers and supermarket chains have announced they are limiting their hours amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Walmart announced Saturday that all of its 24-hour stores currently operating 24-hours will be moving to a 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. operating schedule until further notice.

"This will help ensure associates are able to stock the products our customers are looking for and to perform cleaning and sanitizing," Dacona Smith, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Walmart, said. "Stores currently operating under more reduced hours (for example they regularly close at 10 p.m. or open at 7 a.m.) will keep their current hours of operation."

Kroger, America's largest supermarket chain, will shift hours starting Monday.

According to Kroger spokesperson Erin Rolfe, all stores will be open from 7 a.m. until 9 p.m. until further notice.

Publix, a supermarket chain based in the southeast U.S., will close at 8 p.m until further notice.

The announcements come the same day that Apple said it would close all of its stores outside of Greater China until further notice.

EDITOR'S NOTE: With our coronavirus coverage, our goal at CBS 6 News and is not to alarm you, but to equip you with the information you need. See resources and frequently asked questions at the bottom of this story. Click here for our complete coverage of COVID-19 Outbreak.

What is coronavirus, COVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses are "a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

A novel coronavirus, such as COVID-19, is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans.

COVID-19 was first identified in December 2019 in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China and has now been detected in 45 countries across the globe, including in the U.S., according to the CDC.

The CDC reports the initial patients in China have some link to a large seafood and live animal market, indicative of animal-to-person spread. A growing number of patients, however, did not report exposure to animal markets, indicating the disease is spreading person-to-person.

What are the symptoms? How does it spread?

Confirmed cases of COVID-19 have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death, according to the CDC. Symptoms can include fever, cough, shortness of breath.

The CDC said symptoms could appear in as few as two days or as long as 14 days after exposure. It is similar to the incubation period for MERS.

Spread of the virus is thought to be mainly from person-to-person. Spread is between people who are in close contact with one another (within about six feet). Spread occurs via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

According to the CDC, it could be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, the CDC said.

The disease is most contagious when people are the sickest and showing the most symptoms.