Kat Bradfield tries to follow Oregon’s stay-at-home order enacted on Monday to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The Portland resident has already been working at home and pledges to remain inside “as much as humanly possible” and only shop for what she truly needs.
Her slow internet connection, however, was making it too time consuming to open files she needs to work for an engineering firm. An ethernet cable could give her a boost.
She bought one online at homedepot.com and requested it be sent to a nearby store.
On Tuesday, the same day Gov. Kate Brown had to elaborate on the importance of distancing measures, Bradfield took a dust mask out of storage and drove to the store, hoping to pick up her order quickly and return home.
But crowds were ahead of her, despite the governor’s legally enforceable restrictions on public activity, including limiting travel to going to essential work or buying food and critical supplies.
Across the state, house-bound do-it-yourselfers and kids released from schools because of the coronavirus have been swarming retailers. Some people come to buy vital cleaning supplies or other urgent needs, while others are casually shopping for long-delayed home improvement projects.
The busiest of Oregon’s Home Depot stores have employees at the entrances, routing people and reminding them of the six-foot distancing guidelines. Tape on the floor marks spaced-out Xs where customers should stand while waiting their turn to pay.
Cashiers were busy at Lowe’s in Medford on Monday after the stay-home order was announced. Customers were buying mulch and vegetable seedlings, and looking at barbecue grills and riding lawn mowers.
A woman wearing a mask pushed her cart out of the store with one item: A case of bottled water, which experts say has no particular utility in an outbreak of a respiratory virus, but is helpful after a disaster that compromises water pipes.
Emails were sent to Lowe’s nationwide customers on Tuesday stating that stores have “essential items and supplies.” Home Depot customers received an email Sunday promoting online ordering and free delivery on “over 1 million items.”
A March 12 Home Depot news release explained stores would close early, at 6 p.m., to let staff restock shelves, and clean and sanitize the stores daily. In-store workshops were postponed.
“As an essential retailer to the communities we serve, we’re committed to keeping stores open just as we always do during times of crisis and natural disaster,” according to the news release. “Homeowners and businesses depend on us for urgent needs such as hot water heaters, refrigerators, cleaning supplies, electrical and plumbing repairs, and harsh weather items like tarps, propane and batteries.”
--Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072