SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4 News) – Fears over the spread of COVID-19 or coronavirus led to empty shelves at a number of grocery stores across the state this weekend with shoppers stocking up in bulk on items such as water, sanitation supplies, and non-perishable foods.

Abbie Glenn, a photojournalist at ABC4 News, was one of those shoppers. She and her sister-in-law loaded up Saturday on dog food, laundry detergent, toilet paper, paper towels, bleach, and other non-perishable food items.

“We got an e-mail from our church saying just to be ready, not trying to cause mayhem or panic. I had already talked to my husband and he said, ‘You know what? We should stock up,'” she said. “I just got things I usually needed, but one extra.”

Emily Robinson told ABC4 News her family stocked up on necessities in case they’re unable to get what they need in the future.

“We stocked up […] not because we are worried that we are going to get sick. But we just want to make sure that if schools and grocery stores are shut down, we have the essentials we need,” she said.

Cheria Hansen said she decided to get extra supplies in case she decided to self-quarantine on suspicions of contracting the virus.

“It’s like someone told me a storm is coming. We think it could be heavy, but we don’t know how the weather prediction is going to be. So I prepared just in case, even if there’s no storm coming. I’m not talking just one or two days of snowstorm. We are talking about maybe a month of storm,” said Hansen. “What if I got infected? Then I need to self-quarantine myself for a month and I don’t want other people to visit. I bought items that last a long time. It just means in the next few months, I just won’t go grocery shopping, I guess.”

Viewers shared photos and videos with ABC4 of long lines, stocked up shopping carts, and empty shelves from stores through the state including Costco, Walmart, and Smith’s. Rebecca Ward, a health educator for the Utah Department of Health’s Bureau of Epidemiology said while she understands the public’s heightened concerns, she ensures there’s no reason to overspend and stock up in great quantities.

“Since this is a new virus that we’ve not experienced before, I see why people are fearful,” said Ward. “We are not advising people to go out and get tons of supplies at this point, specifically in Utah because we do not have person-to-person spread. It’s a good idea to have sanitary wipes and things like that on supply, just because it’s respiratory season and you’re going to be cleaning your house anyways.”

She said the public should focus on everyday respiratory precautions, such as covering your cough, washing your hands, and staying home from work or school when you can. If you suspect you may have contracted the coronavirus, she advises patients to isolate yourself and call your healthcare provider instead of going to see them in person to prevent the spread to other people.

Glenn said some shoppers may not be acting out of a place of panic, but rather from a reminder to be prepared for emergencies.

“I think we should all be prepared so that if we do need to stay home and try to work from home and try to not go out as much as we can, that way we can do our part and that way, we keep our families safe and we keep our loved ones safe,” said Glenn.

Governor Gary Herbert and state health officials talked about Utah coronavirus preparedness Monday

Ward reiterated there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus in Utah, which does not include infected patients who contracted the virus outside the state and were transported back such as Mark Jorgensen.

“That doesn’t mean people shouldn’t be planning. We do want people to think about planning. If there’s someone in your family that gets sick and you’re their caretaker, what will you be doing? How will you take care of a sick person?” she said.