three images: Cimarron County highway, Boise City mainstreet, Cimarron County OK courthouse

image: (left) Cimaron County highway (center) downtown Boise City (right) Cimarron County Courthouse. Photos via Wikimedia

|| 27 April 2020

Shopping in a county with no COVID-19

A month ago I shared with you Penelope’s account of shopping during the COVID-19 crisis in Westchester County, NY. At the time of her shopping (19 March), the New York City area had become the epicenter of the crisis in the USA with around 1800 cases in the county. When I checked today, there were some 28,000 confirmed cases in Westchester County.

But what is it like to shop where there are no known cases of the virus? Joyce in Cimarron County, OK shared her shopping experience on 17 April in a county that had no known cases. (Now, 10 days later, the county has one confirmed case.)

Joyce in Cimarron wrote:

The experience was interesting. Since early morning there would likely be fewer people in the store, I arrived at 8:12 AM — twelve minutes later than planned. There were three pickup trucks already parked outside.

This grocery store in Boise City is owned by a man who also owns the Stratford (TX) and Elkhart (KS) grocery stores. They are all nice clean stores, but Stratford has the largest selection — much more fresh fruit and vegetables.

I wore my gloves — and my mask that I had made according to CDC instructions. But I noticed that the clerk wasn't wearing a mask. Nor were the other four shoppers or the four employees in the store.

The store had no frozen blueberries which I always buy to put on my oatmeal each morning. They did have fresh blueberries — a small box for $4.99 — only bought one. The toilet paper section was empty. They did have paper towels and a few boxes of Kleenex. The store was well stocked with everything except TP. I bought more flour since I plan to continue making refrigerator rolls — and corn bread.

As I was leaving the store, a former neighbor came in wearing a mask. She asked if I made mine — she wore a manufactured one. None of the workers appeared to be counting shoppers or limiting the number of people in the store, so the store really appeared to be "as usual".

The next stop was a convenience store to get gas. I saw a few workers and a few men wandering in and out of the store. None were wearing masks. As far as I know, Mary and I were the only people in town wearing masks. Of course, there were probably others. The town was somewhat deserted, but it has been ever since the by-pass was built.

I used hand sanitizer after both the grocery store and convenience store. I washed the gloves when I got home and left the sacks on the back porch. I tried to be very careful — just picked up what I wanted at the grocery store and practically rushed through the store.

By the time I got home, the wind was terrific. There were so many sacks that it took forever to get most of them inside.

Merci to Joyce in Cimarron for sharing her shopping experience.

Update 28 April 2020: What a difference 10 days makes. In an email this morning Joyce reported with that even though Cimarron county still only has one confirmed virus case, with the large surge of cases in the next Oklahoma county east as well as in nearby Moore County, Texas, now one of the national hotspots with 272 confirmed cases — 159 of which are associated with the JBS beef meatpacking plant in Cactus, TX — that more people shopping in Boise City where she shopped are wearing masks — and many apparently planning to grow their own produce. Joyce wrote:

My neighbor went to Boise to the grocery store yesterday. She said that almost everyone she saw was wearing masks except for a few men. She wanted to buy some tomato plants and other vegetable sets, but they had already sold out.