Prior to the World Health Organization officially declaring COVID-19, the new coronavirus, a pandemic on Wednesday, people had already been responding by buying certain products at a rapid pace in local H-E-B and Walmart stores.
At the Killeen Walmart on Lowes Boulevard and H-E-B on Trimmier Road on Wednesday, supplies of hand soap and toilet paper supplies were visibly low.
At the Walmart on Lowes, one employee restocked Clorox bleach on the shelves about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday. Around the same time, at the H-E-B on Trimmier, one employee in the hand soap aisle told a customer there was no telling when supplies would come in.
Shelves of bottled water at the Lowes Boulevard Walmart were also noticeably bare Wednesday afternoon.
“In order to help ensure all can secure the products they need, when they need them, we’ve implemented limits on certain items because we know limits will help protect the supply chain in Texas,” H-E-B said in a news release.
The limits include four units of hand sanitizer/hand soap per transaction, two units of bleach per transaction, four units of disinfectant wipes/sprays per transaction, four units of rubbing alcohol per transaction, four units of water multipacks/gallons per transaction and four boxes of latex gloves per transaction.
In both Walmart and H-E-B in Copperas Cove, the stocks appeared slightly higher for items such as toilet paper and facial tissue. Every shelf in the Cove H-E-B had at least one package of toilet paper, and there was more on pallets above the shelves.
In the Cove Walmart, some shelves of toilet paper were completely empty but the store still had stocks of several packages of toilet paper.
At both merchants in Cove, hand soap was in low supply.
Hand sanitizer was in low supply at the Cove Walmart, while isopropyl alcohol was in low supply at the Cove H-E-B.
“We continue to monitor the development of the coronavirus situation globally and are closely following official recommendations while working with our suppliers to understand and mitigate any supply chain disruptions,” a Walmart spokesman said. “Providing customers with the products they want, and need remains our focus.”
Walmart has not implemented a company-wide limit on certain items, but its store managers can do so at their stores.
“We are working to replenish items quickly and have also authorized our store managers to manage their inventory, including the discretion to limit sales quantities on items that are in unusually high demand,” the Walmart spokesman said.