The streets of Fairborn were quieter than usual for a weekday afternoon and the parking lot at Kroger, often jammed throughout the last few weeks as the Coronavirus emergency has escalated, was only half full.
Grocery stores are among the businesses designated under Gov. Mike DeWine’s "Stay at Home" order as essential, exempted from the mandatory statewide shutdown aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19.
The order takes effect at midnight Monday, March 23 and is expected to remain in place until at least April 6.
Wearing his active-duty Air Force uniform as he loaded shopping bags into the backseat of his car, Shawn McKellop says he understands the public-health need for people to stay home for the next couple of weeks.
“It’s obviously very serious, with the mortality rate especially amongst older folks. I’d rather everybody stay home now and just deal with a little bit of pain now -- you know, misery loves company so we all have to do what we have to do -- rather than a lot of problems later,” McKellop says.
The airman works with the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Honor Guard, considered essential under federal law. But McKellop says he's working reduced hours from home.
He and his wife have entertained their toddler by watching the popular children's movie Frozen more than a few times over the last week, which he acknowledges he'd probably be doing, stay at home order or not.
For now, he says, the family is trying to keep upbeat. They're focusing on enjoying their extra time at home together. His groceries include lots of comfort foods.
"I buy big packages of essentials anyway, paper towels, toilet paper, diapers and all that good stuff," he says. "Comfort items is kind of what I'm looking for now, my energy drinks, my soda, and I'm going to make tacos for dinner tonight."
DeWine's stay at home order allows Ohioans to leave home for health and safety reasons, for necessary supplies and for outdoor exercise from a minimum of six feet from other people.
It also exempts mail, shipping, logistics and delivery busineses and services.
At a nearby UPS Store, manager C.J. Pennington says the store is taking extra precautions and regularly disinfecting all surfaces. Employees set up a perimeter of empty cardboard boxes around the check-out counter to keep customers at a safe distance.
Pennington says he and the owners were relieved they are allowed to continue operating.
"It was a relief because we're a small business, this is our livelihood, it's a family business here, too. The owners are my in-laws," he says. "Some business is at least better than no business at all, right?"
He says the store is monitoring foot traffic while the Coronavirus stay at home order remains in effect.
"We already feel bad that we have to cut some employees hourly but luckily, they are high-school kids and college kids. They still live at home, so it's not as detrimental to some of them," Pennington says. "I pretty much told everybody, I'll keep you in the loop. We don't want to take away people's hours, but if we're not waiting on any people, we might have them come in here, at least do some cleaning so they can at least get some hours and then maybe send them home early or something like that. "