A county in Southern Maryland was forced to clarify its social distancing policy after announcing that the county’s health department “recommended” that shopping days be divided by residents’ last names to prevent overcrowding and stop the spread of coronavirus, a report said.
Southern Maryland News Net ran a press release from the Calvert County Health Department that asked residents to “voluntarily limit trips for groceries to once every 5 days” and on a schedule. It went on to list, for example, “Last name starting with A-C shop on dates ending with 0 and 5.”
The press release was issued shortly after Gov. Larry Hogan issued an order that masks or some kind of face coverings will be required in all of the state’s grocery stores and pharmacies.
“Going to the grocery store has shifted from an occasional trip to get necessities to an excuse for getting out of the house,” the health department said.
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The county has reported 99 coronavirus cases. Maryland announced 40 deaths on Monday and 47 deaths Tuesday, which is the deadliest two days in the state, NBC Washington reported.
The Board of County Commissioners updated the release to clarify recent news reports and said the idea was “simply a suggested practice by the Calvert County Health Department.”
“The public is advised there are currently no restrictions in Calvert County, Maryland. Citizens may continue to shop at their convenience,” the statement read.
The guidance was perceived by many in the community to be the latest example of a local government’s overreach. Americans appear more willing to challenge some of these orders because the economy has been decimated and jobless claims are reaching historic levels.
One Twitter user, in response to an initial report about the shopping recommendation, wrote, “It’s starting. Calvert County announced shopping days based on last name. Voluntary only at this point.”
Besides many cities and states now calling for face masks at grocery stores, there is a growing concern about the health of these grocery store workers, with many coming down with the virus.
The food supply chain also appears to be at risk over a shortage of workers. The New York Times reported on Tuesday that disruptions are likely due to the spread of the virus through the industry.
“You might not get what you want when you want it,” Christine McCracken, a meat industry analyst, told the paper. “Consumers like to have a lot of different choices, and the reality is in the short term, we just don’t have the labor to make that happen.”