Local grocery stores are open to provide a much-needed service to customers in need of supplies during the COVID-19 outbreak.

But several employees at our local stores have told The Gazette in recent days that a lot of the people they see walking their stores are either not shopping or are people who medical experts say should be in medical quarantine.

Employees have flocked our inbox in recent days saying that they’re growing concerned about people who are “joy-walking” stores or others who say they are going to the store after having just been to the doctor.

Multiple employees have reached out — encompassing several of the local grocers in our area.

The employees have asked not to be named, but they share the same message: “Go to the store only if necessary.”

“We had a patient come in who said they had fever, was coughing and had just been tested for the coronavirus,” one employee said. “It’s scary. This person should be at home and is walking around our store and potentially putting people at risk. It’s not OK. We love what we do and we’re happy to do it. But, some people just need to stay home.”

Three separate employees of local grocers in our area said they were concerned about their own health because of some of the people who have been going into the stores.

Two of the three said they had heard customers say that they either had been tested for the virus or were showing symptoms.

None of the people were wearing a mask or taking any precautions.

Doctors tell patients when they test for COVID-19 to go home and enter immediate quarantine until they hear their results.

“If you feel sick in any kind of way, don’t leave the house,” one employee pleaded. “If you’ve been tested — especially — don’t leave the house. If you know someone who is sick and you’ve been around them, try and stay home. … That is putting so many people in danger.”

The employee said people should be considerate and realize that many employees have spouses and children they’re going home to and just about all employees have parents or other relatives who they come in contact with.

“It’s many more people than just me who can contract those germs,” they said.

Local grocery stores have also reported instances of “joy riding” — people who are going to local stores without any intention to buy anything, but are simply just finding an excuse to get out of the house.

Parish President Archie Chaisson said this past weekend that he was perturbed by the number of cars on local roads. In recent days, he’s continuously asked locals to stay home as best they can to follow the Governor’s Shelter in Place order and to practice social distancing.

One worker said customers go in and out the store daily and they show no apparent intention to buy anything.

“Now isn’t the time to be scoping out what other people are doing,” they said. “We’re working hard to keep everyone’s pantries full, but if we lose our workers, it will be harder for us to stock shelves and keep up. Help us to help you.”

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