While grocery stores adopt to the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19 by reducing hours, hiring more employees and even installing Plexiglas shields at cashiers, members of the immunocompromised community say they are being left out of the planning, especially when it comes to shopping online.
A quick glance at local grocery store websites shows a similar message across the board — ‘We are experiencing extremely high web traffic and demand for online shopping’ — along with asking those who can shop in-store to continue to do so.
Lisa Thompson says she wants to see stores do more to help those who really can’t leave their homes.
Thompson has been trying to order groceries online as she is immunocompromised and just recently got out of the hospital. She was using home support workers several times a day but has since had to ask them to stop coming, leaving her with few options to get food.
She’s tried a number of local stores and says some won’t even take her order, or if her order goes through there’s no guarantee when the food will be delivered.
“Honestly, I think it’s just been completely overlooked,” she says.
For Christine Knox, who is also immunocompromised, the concern about being able to get groceries during the pandemic started about eight weeks ago as she was monitoring the situation in Wuhan, China, while volunteering for Emergency Management B.C.
“I saw the writing on the wall and said OK, we need to get prepared,” says Knox, who began buying things in bulk before the mass of shoppers started lining up for toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
She says that while she’s got enough supports — for now — to have family members or friends drop off groceries, she and her husband are planning for the long haul.
“What we’re doing right now to ensure our food source is going to be OK is we’re building a greenhouse,” she says, adding that she wants to be prepared for up to 18 months in quarantine.
Both Thompson and Knox acknowledge the grocery store staff and their hard work, but still want to see more done to help those who really can’t leave their homes to be able to buy food.
“I don’t know how you control that and improve when people are already working their hardest and doing what they can,” says Knox.