Philly Coronavirus News: Main Line Grocery Store Worker Tells Customers “Go Away”

“They want to know if you have a certain brand of coconut milk. Not just coconut milk. But a brand.”

the giant grocery store in wynnewood outside of philadelphia during the coronavirus crisis

The Giant grocery store in Wynnewood, a suburb of Philadelphia, on April 17th during the coronavirus crisis. (Photo by Victor Fiorillo)

A roundup of Philly coronavirus news.

Main Line Grocery Store Worker to Customers: “Go Away”

Earlier this week, we told you that Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and health secretary Rachel Levine ordered all grocery store shoppers to wear masks starting this Sunday. This comes as a relief to many grocery store workers. But one employee at the Giant in Wynnewood says it’s not enough.

“These people just need to go away,” the employee told us, asking us to withhold his name and exact position in the store for fear of losing his job. “I get that people need bread and milk. I get it, I do. But then you have these people who come in like several times a week. And they want very specific things. Can you slice my ham thinner? They want to know if you have a certain brand of coconut milk. Not just coconut milk. But a brand. They want extra-large eggs and we only have large eggs and that’s not good enough for them.”

The Wynnewood Giant employee says that most customers have not been wearing masks, depending on the time of day, and that while some actively try to socially distance, others will just step right in front of another customer to grab a can of soup from a shelf.

“Some of these people are rude,” he says. “And some of them just don’t get it.”

The Giant employee has family at home as well as contact with an older relative. He’s worried that a customer who just had to get Skippy peanut butter on a given morning is going to give him coronavirus. And then he’s going to give it to someone in his family.

His thoughts and sentiments were echoed by employees we spoke to at other grocery stores throughout the region.

Rich, an employee of a South Philly supermarket (he asked us to withhold his last name and the particular store), adds that customers “were really nice in the early days [of the coronavirus in Philadelphia] but now everybody’s just angry and needs everything right away.”

Way out in Malvern, a Wegmans employee (who, again, asked to be anonymous) says that customers don’t seem to realize that she’s putting her life on the line just by showing up to work. “I used to go by ‘the customer is always right,'” she tells Philly Mag. “But things are different now. Show me some fucking respect.”

Or, as an open letter said to be from employees of Home Depot, Lowes, Wal-Mart and Costco put it on a now-viral social media post on Thursday:

Just because we are open doesn’t mean we are here for you to spend your time browsing around. We are designated as an ESSENTIAL SERVICE.

We are not here for you because you have nothing else to do. We are not here for you because you feel like getting out of the house for a while.

We are in a STATE OF EMERGENCY. This is NOT A VACATION! Every customer who walks in our doors PUTS US AT RISK.

We really don’t want to be here but we realize that we are needed.

YOU don’t see how many times a day how many times we wash and sanitize our hands to try to keep ourselves safe.

YOU don’t see our upset co-workers in the break room struggling to keep their composure.

YOU don’t see our spouses who worry about us every minute we are at work and who are our strength when we get home.

We have our jobs to do and we realize the IMPORTANCE OF OUR JOB TO YOU.

The LEAST you can do is come in with a sense of purpose, get what you need, and get yourselves HOME.

Domestic Violence Incidents Are Up in Montco During Coronavirus

According to Montgomery County district attorney Kevin Steele, domestic violence incidents are up in his county.

Analysts combed through 911 calls and police reports during the coronavirus outbreak in the area and found an increase of eight to nine percent for domestic violence incidents when compared to the same period last year.

“Living in this unprecedented pandemic is a stressful time, with adults and children staying at home together, confined to close quarters while at the same time being upended from routines, friends, jobs and other constants of their lives,” said Steele in a statement. “Add to that fears of getting coronavirus, job losses/layoffs and stress and you have a situation that can lead to tensions in even the best of relationships but especially where there is a family member who acts out physically and emotionally.”

Steele pointed out the total increase is likely even higher, since so many domestic violence incidents go unreported.

Other counties have yet to report similar data. But domestic violence experts wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if those data mirrored that of Montgomery County.

70,000 Free Food Boxes and Counting to Philly Residents

It’s been about three weeks since the city started handing out free food boxes to residents at pickup points throughout the city, and the tally of boxes now stands at over 70,000.

If you’re wondering what’s inside, here’s a sample from the first week of distribution:

The city hands out the boxes every Monday and Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon. You don’t need ID. Just show up and get a box. Here is a list of distribution points.