Toilet paper, anti-bacterial hand wipes and hand sanitizers are flying off local store shelves as fear grows of a possible COVID-19 outbreak.

"Our team is also working hard to help you with your needs at home. As customers are focused on keeping their families well, we've experienced a high demand for products such as cleaning supplies and hand sanitizers," Hannaford Supermarket stated in a news release issued March 11.

"We're working closely with our suppliers to provide you with the products you need, as soon as they're available. We're searching widely for new sources of supplies, and stores have implemented a purchase limit on certain items to ensure that products remain available."

The aisle at the Hannaford in Rockland where toilet paper is stocked was empty Wednesday afternoon other than three large packages of rolls.

The same situation is occurring at the Walmart in Thomaston. The toilet paper aisle was empty and hand wipes were also sold out in afternoon.

A store clerk said the situation has been ongoing for more than a week with toilet paper sold out soon after it is placed on the shelves. Some customers would meet store workers as they came out of the stock rooms and take toilet paper before they got on the shelves.

Hannaford stated in the news release that it has been monitoring the COVID-19 situation closely and following recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those include travel restrictions, cancellations of conferences or other group gatherings, and postponing or canceling of meetings that involve large numbers.

"Within our stores, we're focused on protecting your health and the health of our associates. We practice rigorous cleaning procedures throughout the entire store – from the entryway where we offer sanitizing wipes, to well-maintained bathrooms, to regularly sanitized PIN pads, grocery conveyor belts and other surfaces that people touch frequently. Our food safety practices are also exhaustive and thorough.

We strictly enforce personal hygiene techniques that are most effective at combating viruses, such as hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And, we've asked associates who are feeling ill to stay home," Hannaford stated.

Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap is encouraging all Maine residents to use the Department of the Secretary of State’s online services.

“At a time when we are being asked to limit our exposure to other people, these services are more valuable than ever, giving all Mainers an option to conduct many types of motor vehicle transactions from their own home,” Secretary Dunlap stated in a March 11 news release.

The Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles offers a range of services online, including license renewal, vehicle registration renewal, replacement titles, over-limit permits and more.

The University of Maine system also announced March 11 that on-campus classes would not continue this semester after spring break.

"Effective March 23, UMS universities will transition all in-class academic instruction to online or other pedagogically appropriate distance modalities that do not require in-class presence for the remainder of the spring semester. Graduate, clinical and similarly situated students should be transitioned to remote work, if possible. Individual universities, colleges and departments should provide all material assistance and accommodation possible through this transition," the announcement stated.

The announcement was made after the Rockland center was closed for the day. There was no one immediately available to determine if the Rockland center would also not have in-person classes after spring break.

No confirmed cases have yet been found in Maine but the virus is spreading throughout the country including New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

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