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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Local, National Supermarkets Adapt For Coronavirus

Ronny Salerno
Many food staples supplies at the Forest Park Kroger were depleted as of Thursday night.

Some grocery stores and supermarkets have made operational changes over COVID-19 concerns. Those changes include reduced hours to allow for restocking and cleaning.

Starting Monday, Cincinnati and Dayton area Kroger stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Columbus and Toledo Kroger stores will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The company says checkout stations and food service areas are getting more thorough cleanings more often. Employees are asked to monitor their own health, and to stay home if necessary.

In a statement on the company's website, CEO Rodney McMullen says "... our teams are working so hard to keep our stores clean, open and stocked. That's why we took the precautionary step on March 2 to limit the number of cold, flu and sanitary products per order…so everyone can have access to the items they need. And that's why our supply chain teams are working to ensure that the food, medicine and cleaning supplies our customers need are reaching our stores as quickly as possible and are available through our pickup, delivery and ship services."

Walmart is also making changes to store hours. As of Sunday, stores that had been open 24 hours will only be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. The company's website says it's to allow restocking and sanitizing. Stores not open 24 hours will not see a change.

The Meijer chain of supermarkets said on Twitter there were no plans to close stores, but "we're suspending service at our meat counters and deli salads so that our team members can prepare those items for sale in our self-refrigerated cases."

Credit Bill Rinehart / WVXU
Findlay Market was uncharacteristically quiet on Saturday morning.

Findlay Market was like a ghost town Saturday. Stores were open, but crowds that typically flock to the historic market on the weekend were absent. Spokeswoman Bridget Castellini promoted the Market's curbside pickup and delivery options on Twitter.

Aldi's CEO Jason Hart said in a statement, "In the midst of increased demand and challenging supply, we are focused on the products you are likely to want most: water, pantry staples, pre-made meals, cleaning supplies, toilet paper and more. To support as many customers as possible, you may see quantity limits placed on select items. We appreciate your patience as some of these products may be temporarily unavailable in some of our stores."

On its website, the president of Fresh Thyme Markets, Gerald Melville, says the company was working to address additional demand for certain products, and was following CDC guidance on cleaning.

"As an additional precaution, we have decided to temporarily close our self-serve salad bars, hot soup bars, and olive bars in all our stores. You will be able to find pre-packed salads, soups and olive bar offerings in or close to their home locations in the stores," Melville says.

Whole Foods' statement says the company has stopped giving out free samples in stores, was limiting operating hours for the salad bars, and was discontinuing the use of personal reusable containers at smoothie and coffee bars. Whole Foods also promoted home delivery of groceries.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.