During such critical times, Americans should be acting together as one, fighting one common enemy. Instead, we’re competing against each other—for toilet paper and a carton of milk. Ever since COVID-19 has spread worldwide, people have been taking increasingly absurd amounts of necessary but widely needed supplies, causing panic and distress to those who really need them.
The hoarding of supplies, especially toilet paper, started when we finally began to witness the exponential increase of cases in China, understanding that other countries would also experience a large number of cases. It is unclear why toilet paper has become such a desirable commodity. Many of China’s factories are not producing any more products until the country recovers from the virus, so it is possible that people attempted to take necessary supplies before they were all gone. Toilet paper may seem like an odd product to be in high demand, but at least it is not a mandatory supply for medical professionals or those infected with COVID-19. So, if you must stock up on toilet paper, better that than other supplies.
Other products, like hand sanitizer and masks, are sold out because of widespread public panic as well. The problem, though, is that these products are mandatory for medical professionals to safely do their jobs. Toilet paper is not important, but masks definitely are. Not to mention, after all this hoarding, prices for hand sanitizer have increased to benefit sellers. So, not only is the public taking away necessary supplies from the medical field, but they are also making these supplies more expensive and less accessible.
US doctors are being forced to ration masks, even reusing the same mask throughout the day. Typically, doctors would replace their masks every time they walk out of an isolation room. Now, some are forced to use the same mask all day, which very likely holds infected material. Part of this shortage can be blamed on the slow production and deployment of supplies by the federal government, but some blame should also be placed on the general population. When we bought cases of masks in a panic, we probably were not thinking of the doctors who are now forced to treat infected patients without adequate protection.
These ridiculous actions have also affected the people who are the most vulnerable to the disease: the elderly. For some of our older population, it’s not as easy as heading to Publix and grabbing some supplies. Some don’t have the money, or even the physical ability, to stock up on supplies. Completely wiping out shelves just causes more panic, which is not needed at this moment.
Even perishable products, like eggs and milk, are hard to find. Why would anyone need a full cart of eggs and milk? How are these people going to utilize such a large amount milk, which is perishable, in such a short amount of time? It is understandable that people do need these items for their usual day-to-day life, but when someone grabs the entire section of milk, they’re more greedy than they are “prepared.” Just because people are overtaking toilet paper and hand sanitizer doesn’t mean that everyone should be taking everything they can from the shelves of grocery stores. People must realize that they are not alone in this crisis. Everyone needs to be considerate of others who can’t easily go to the grocery store. Next time you grab the last carton of milk, think of the mother who heads to the store after a long day of work only to find no food for her child.
Sadly, a large percentage of our population can’t even afford to stock up on these necessary items. Do you really need four dozen eggs when some people can only afford to buy one carton per week? Until everyone can afford to buy more food, maybe stick to two cartons of milk, or two dozen eggs.
Although the situation is disappointing, some hope remains. Many grocery stores like Walmart and Publix are combating this issue by dedicating specific times in the morning to seniors. According to usatoday.com, Walmart is allocating an hour before the store’s opening hours for seniors, ages 60 and above, to shop on every Tuesday, starting from March 24 to April 28. Local stores are now limiting the number of certain products allowed per customer. Private companies, collaborating with our government, are ramping up production of masks and ventilators.
Most people today are anxious about COVID-19. Most people want to ensure they have enough supplies to last before they have to go out in public. This is perfectly normal behavior. At the same time, please consider those who don’t have the same luxury—medical professionals, the elderly, the poor, or those who have to work all day. While it is reasonable to take a few extra supplies to be safe, do not stock up on an unreasonable amount of supplies unless it is absolutely necessary. You could save the life of a doctor, an elderly person, or anyone else.
Featured image from tcbmag.com