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As anxiety surrounding the coronavirus continues to mount, grocery stores and other retailers nationwide have cultivated ways to help ease fears of shoppers, especially amongst the population most at risk for contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
Stores are now designating shopping times reserved exclusively for the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions in an effort to help protect those most at risk for developing a more serious case of COVID-19.
For most people, the rapidly spreading virus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. However, for older adults and people with pre-existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Eight out of 10 reported deaths from the outbreak across the United States have been in adults 65 and older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here is the list of stores implementing shopping times for those most vulnerable for contracting COVID-19.
Albertsons Companies Inc.
The company, which operates more than 2,200 grocery stores in the U.S., is reserving every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. for senior citizens and "other at-risk populations, such as pregnant women or those with compromised immune systems," the company announced.
Albertsons Companies operates stores across 34 states and the District of Columbia including Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions and Star Market. Click here for the full list of stores.
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, stores will open at 8:30 a.m. and dedicate the first shopping hour to at-risk customers such as senior citizens, expectant mothers and those with underlying health concerns, the company announced on Facebook.
All Big Lots stores are reserving the first hour of each workday for "senior citizens and those most vulnerable to this virus," Big Lots CEO Bruce Thorn announced.
Every day from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m., clubs will be open only for members ages 60 and older.
"We're here to serve you in these challenging times. We'll continue to do everything we can to protect our communities while providing essential products," the company tweeted.
Costco Wholesale Club
On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Costco reserved an hour from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. for members who are 60 years old and over, the retailer said in a Facebook post.
The pharmacy will also be open during this time, however, the food court will operate on its normal schedule.
DeCicco & Sons
Every day starting at 8 a.m., DeCicco & Sons is dedicating the first half-hour of the shopping day for elderly and immune-compromised shoppers only.
Dollar General is reserving the first hour of shopping every day for seniors at its more than 16,000 stores.
"Dollar General wants to provide these at-risk customers with the ability to purchase the items they need and want at the beginning of each day to avoid busier and more crowded shopping periods," the company said.
On Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. the supermarket is only open to those most vulnerable, the company announced on Facebook.
The grocer is holding senior hours twice weekly. From 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday the store will open for customers ages 65 and older until further notice. Publix's pharmacies will also be open during this time to assist seniors.
Every Tuesday and Thursday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., Sam's Club locations are only open to seniors, those with disabilities and comprised immune systems. The store's pharmacies and optical centers will also be open during this time. The company is also offering free concierge service for seniors who may aren't comfortable entering the store.
Stop & Shop
Every day from 6 a.m. to 7:30 a.m., Stop & Shop locations will be open for immune-compromised shoppers and those aged 60 and above.
"Although we will not be requesting ID for entry, we ask that you please respect the purpose of the early opening – and do the right thing for your neighbors," the company said in a statement. "Store associates do reserve the right to ask customers to leave if they are not a member of this age group."
Target will be allocating the first shopping hour of every Wednesday to the elderly and customers with underlying health concerns only, the company’s CEO, Brian Cornell, said.
The Fresh Market
From 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, all stores will open for seniors and other at-risk shoppers as identified by the CDC.
"We ask that our other guests who do not fall into a higher risk category respect this reserved hour," the company said in a statement.
Every Tuesday, stores are open for senior citizens and patients age 55 and over between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. However, pharmacy hours may vary by location, the company said. The store is offering discounts online and in-store every Tuesday for seniors, as well as free shipping and drive-thru services for seniors until further notice.
All Whole Foods locations in the U.S. and Canada will serve customers who are 60 years old and over for one hour before opening stores to the public until further notice, the company said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.