From Deliveries in Arizona to Fish Markets in California, CCP Virus Changes How We Buy Our Food

April 13, 2020 Updated: April 13, 2020

Eric Cohn used to wear a respirator mask, goggles, and gloves only to protect against mold and asbestos as he restored homes in Tucson, Arizona. Now he dons the same gear in his new job—shopping for quarantined customers.

Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, heads to his car outside a Safeway grocery store while wearing a respirator mask
Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, heads to his car outside a Safeway grocery store while wearing a respirator mask to help protect himself and slow the spread of the CCP virus disease in Tucson, Ariz., U.S. on April 4, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

“People ask me where I get this mask every day,” the 34-year-old said. “They say: you look good! I say I’m not trying to look good. I’m trying to be safe.”

With over 90 percent of the U.S. population under orders to stay home to slow the spread of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as novel coronavirus, Cohn is among a new class of front-line workers delivering food to people’s houses.

Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, delivers groceries to a residence while wearing a respirator mask.
Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, delivers groceries to a residence while wearing a respirator mask to help protect himself and slow the spread of the CCP virus disease in Tucson, Ariz., U.S. on April 4, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

These workers risk their own health every time they touch doors to enter supermarkets and restaurants, or approach homes where someone inside could be sick. But—with a record 10 million Americans filing claims for unemployment benefits in the last two weeks of March—many feel they have little choice if they want to pay their bills.

Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, loads an order into his car outside a Fry's grocery store while wearing a respirator mask.
Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, loads an order into his car outside a Fry’s grocery store while wearing a respirator mask to help protect himself and slow the spread of the CCP virus disease in Tucson, Ariz., U.S. on April 4, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

Cohn said he often feels vulnerable in the supermarket checkout line as other customers get closer to him than the recommended 6 feet. Once safely back in his car, he disinfects his gloved hands, steering wheel, door handles, and phone. He often works 14 hours with a goal of making $200 a day.

Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, sprays his gloves with disinfectant while wearing a respirator mask.
Instacart employee Eric Cohn, 34, sprays his gloves with disinfectant while wearing a respirator mask to help protect himself and slow the spread of the CCP virus disease in Tucson, Ariz., U.S. on April 4, 2020. (Cheney Orr/Reuters)

“If I didn’t have my own PPE, I don’t know if I would be OK with doing this,” he said, referring to personal protective equipment.

Concerns about staff safety led a family in New York’s Brooklyn neighborhood to decide to close their three restaurants. Last week, Ix (pronounced “eesh”) made its last free deliveries of Guatemalan food to police, firefighters, doctors, and nurses.

Printed signs are taped to the outside of Ix restaurant announcing its closure, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020 amid the CCP virus outbreak. (Anna Watts/Reuters)
Printed signs are taped to the outside of Ix restaurant announcing its closure, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020. (Anna Watts/Reuters)

“This was our baby. It was the dream come true. It’s hard to say goodbye to that,” said Ana Prince, one of the owners of Ix, which opened over three years ago.

Chef and part-owner Jorge Cardenas, 41, hands customers free shots of broth while they wait for their takeout order outside of Ix restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020 amid the CCP virus outbreak. (Anna Watts/Reuters)
Chef and part-owner Jorge Cardenas, 41, hands customers free shots of broth while they wait for their takeout order outside of Ix restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020. (Anna Watts/Reuters)
Chef Jorge Cardenas shares an elbow bump with regular Ix customer Lorenzo Bernasconi outside of Ix restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020 amid the CCP virus outbreak. (Anna Watts/Reuters)
Chef Jorge Cardenas shares an elbow bump with regular Ix customer Lorenzo Bernasconi outside of Ix restaurant in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020. (Anna Watts/Reuters)

“I feel like I want to cry because you never want to see your business closing,” she said. “But everyone is healthy and we don’t want them to get sick. It could get worse. So for the health of everybody, we made the decision [to close], but it wasn’t easy at all,” said Prince.

Ix, now closed for customers, is seen through the front windows as employee Daniel Gonzalez, 34, finishes cleaning and sanitizing the upstairs, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020 amid the CCP virus outbreak. (Anna Watts/Reuters)
Ix, now closed for customers, is seen through the front windows as employee Daniel Gonzalez, 34, finishes cleaning and sanitizing the upstairs, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City, U.S., on April 2, 2020. (Anna Watts/Reuters)

With restaurants closing and so many people ordering food from their homes, many Americans have found delivery slots at grocery stores evaporating.

Some providers have tried to get around that by going direct to the consumer.

In Lodi, Ohio, farmers have created a website offering weekly deliveries of vegetables, meats, cheeses, and other fresh items.

Front 9 Farm offers weekly deliveries of vegetables, meats, cheeses and other fresh items following the CCP virus outbreak, in Ohio, U.S.
Tim Kelly and Jimmy Myers run one of four pickup spots in Madison Park, Lakewood for Front 9 Farm where they have started offering weekly deliveries of vegetables, meats, cheeses and other fresh items following the CCP virus outbreak, in Ohio, U.S., on April 4, 2020. (Dane Rhys/Reuters)

“It’s nice for us using the online order forms,” said Jimmy Myers, 33, one of the owners of Front 9 Farm. “We know that everything we harvest is going to be sold. There’s very little waste… We sell out of eggs within about two hours of loading the order form.”

Front 9 Farm offers weekly deliveries of vegetables, meats, cheeses and other fresh items following the CCP virus outbreak, in Ohio, U.S.
Corinne Henslee and her sister Ellen prepare orders at Front 9 Farm where they have started offering weekly deliveries of vegetables, meats, cheeses and other fresh items following the CCP virus outbreak, in Ohio, U.S., on April 4, 2020. (Dane Rhys/Reuters)

In California, Jordyn Kastlunger, who fishes commercially with her father Martin Kastlunger, sometimes sells the catches at the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market in San Diego. About 300 people recently lined up to buy fish at the market, standing on tape markers 6 feet apart. Police later asked them to increase the spacing to 12 feet.

Commercial fisherman Ben Stephens cuts an opah fish onboard the Gutsy Lady 4, a fishing vessel, docked in Tuna Harbor in San Diego, Calif., U.S., on April, 2020. (Bing Guan/ Reuters)
Commercial fisherman Ben Stephens cuts an opah fish onboard the Gutsy Lady 4, a fishing vessel, docked in Tuna Harbor in San Diego, Calif., U.S., on April, 2020. (Bing Guan/ Reuters)

“My dad fishes for a variety of things so the only thing that’s really been impacted is crab, since processors don’t have as much bait to give,” Kastlunger said. “We’ve been doing OK. It’s definitely slower and harder.”

Epoch Times staff contributed to this report.