Panic buying and preparing for a pandemic

Izzy Manzo – Photo Editor

As COVID-19 leads to campus closures, capping public gatherings at 250 people, and the very real question as to whether or not the United States could experience a mass lockdown.

In response, people across the country have taken to “panic buying” to ensure that they would have enough supplies to last the pandemic.

On one hand, there is some rational thought behind stockpiling industrial-sized bottles of hand sanitizer or 72-roll packs of toilet paper—in times of mass panic, the anticipation that the worst could happen is a natural reaction.

The Department of Homeland Security recommends storing a “two week supply of water and food” in the event of a possible pandemic, and when it feels like one has little time to prepare before the situation can possibly become worse, some people take the idea of stocking up to the extreme.

Toilet paper specifically, according to CNN, is also justifiable to hoard because it is an essential item—people are going to use it eventually, unlike perishables that can expire before they get eaten.

Therefore, it is normal to think that it is better to go through the hassle of getting enough supplies now than waiting until it is too late.

CNN also states that seeing people panic can also induce panic. Seeing pictures of the shelves at Stop & Shop or Walmart devoid of staples such as pasta and toilet paper can make it hard to shake the feeling that this is becoming a very real situation and that, regardless of what happens, it is better to be safe than sorry.

Despite the fact that we are facing a pandemic, it is hard to feel like people are focusing on the right things. It is completely natural to feel helpless and anxious, especially during a situation that is both ongoing and rapidly increasing in severity.

However, as more information becomes available, it is important to think with logic rather than emotion and realize that some of the habits people are engaging in are retroactive.

While buying face masks, for example, sounds like a good idea, the Center for Disease Control says that they are only necessary if you are already sick or in close contact with someone who is.

As we learn more about how COVID-19 spreads and how we can take care of ourselves during this pandemic, people have a responsibility to adjust accordingly.

There is still a lot of information that we do not have yet, and it is normal to expect the worse and prepare accordingly. When seemingly every aspect of your life has to majorly adjust in accordance to a literal pandemic, panic is inevitable.

Students at Southern started the week expecting to take their midterms and get ready for spring break, only to quickly realize that their break would be unintentionally extended due to what seemed like an irrational fear that would never reach this point a few weeks ago.

Having the world seemingly shut down within the span of a few days, and with so much uncertainty as to what will happen in the future, makes widespread fear and panic a completely rational response. It is natural to expect the worst, but it is equally important for one to take the bigger picture into account.

There is only so much that one person can do to combat COVID-19—washing your hands, disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and practicing social distancing—and it is important to practice those habits.

Conflicting messages about COVID-19 make fear a perfectly reasonable response, but mass hoarding toilet paper products, hand sanitizers and face masks only makes it more difficult for people who need them as much as you do to access them.

Photo credit: Jessica Guerrucci

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