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Panic buying during coronavirus outbreak puts others "at risk," food industry expert warns

"Supply is flowing" amid coronavirus panic
Store shelves will be restocked amid coronavirus panic, expert says 02:50

Concern over anticipated shortages of food and other supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic is driving people to supermarkets and big-box stores. But one expert says people shouldn't worry and that shelves will be restocked.

Shelves were picked to the bone at a Walmart in Washington state, over-the-counter medicines were bought out from a Target in Virginia and long lines and bare shelves were seen at a Whole Foods in New York City, CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann reports.

"Panic mode, people are terrified and they're unsure of what to do, and there's no sign of it getting better," one customer said. 

Doug Baker, a vice president at the Food Industry Association, said the shortages are simply because of unexpected demand.

"There is no chance that they will not be able to fill," he said. "There could be periodic shortages, and there might be times where consumers might not be able to get it for a couple of days, but supply is flowing, machines are running and the product will make it's way back to the shelf."

Baker said now is not the time to panic and recommended people think about others before they buy more than they absolutely need.

"Buy the items that you believe you need to have in order to do that, but also remember your neighbors and your families and your friends and your coworkers are also trying to do the same thing, and if you purchase too much of that item, that hand sanitizer, that household cleaning solution, then you actually take that away from somebody else and you actually put them at risk for this virus," he said.

President Donald Trump also weighed in on the demand on Sunday.

"The stores are stocking up at a level that's beyond Christmas time," he said. "There's no need for anybody in the country to hoard essential food supplies."

Customers who can't find what they need at the big stores like Walmart or Costco also could check at smaller independent stores.

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