Coronavirus fear spreads panic across the Bay Area

By Elizabeth Hall and Kaashika Raut

Staff Writers

Grocery trips in California have not just become a necessity, they have turned into an experience. While at Costco over the weekend, I saw the true nature of humans. The most shocking and infuriating moment was when I spotted a woman sitting on top of the last pallet of Spam so that no other shopper could access it. Since there were only a few boxes left, a few shoppers were circling and waiting for her to get up. When she finally grabbed her Spam and made a run for it, she crossed the aisle to a cart so full that she had to throw herself against it just to get it rolling. Then, just as she left, someone else came and grabbed the rest of the stock.

It’s not just the idea that someone would hoard that much food in their cart when they obviously didn’t need it (seriously, who needs 3 giant boxes of Frosted Flakes?), but the idea that she actually took the time and effort to sit on a limited supply of high-demand food just so that no one else could take it. 

Because of the panic caused by COVID-19, the government should be transparent with the people, social media sites should crack down on fake news that causes more panic, and stores need to enact measures to counter panic buying.

State and federal governments need to be honest with the citizens. A world leader should be honest about what is happening in the country and provide accurate data along with tips to help stop the spread. That will help restore trust in the government and reassure people that everything will be fine. Things like deflecting questions or covering up numbers can only lead to a bigger problem, as people will find out the truth eventually and react negatively to the news, like when China censored a coronavirus whistleblower.

With the spread of COVID-19, there has also been a major spread in fake news on the internet. People have been spreading articles about things such as potential cures to the coronavirus or false statistics. These fake news posts can spread panic, as well as cost people money. Lately, many coronavirus-related scams have been reported. A United States couple read that the malaria medication is helping coronavirus cases. However, they mistakenly read it wrong and took their pet tank cleaner as medication. The husband died and the wife is in the ICU.

COVID-19 has caused massive growth in human selfishness. It’s one thing to stock up for a week’s worth of goods, but people have bought enough toilet paper for several years. This is not only unnecessary, but it prevents people who actually need toilet paper or other supplies from getting them. California stores should introduce buying limits so that the whole population has access to essentials such as dry and canned goods, toilet paper, and cleaners.

Panic buying causes more panic buying. When people see things like empty shelves and out of stock signs on social media platforms, they rush into stores and make that a reality. People who aren’t hoarding might feel unprepared. So then more and more people flood into those stores, which limits opportunities for others. Stores have been forced to place limits on high-demand items as a result.

Because the government isn’t giving us straight facts, people don’t know what they should do. The people of the world are stuck at home, and they feel like the only thing that they are capable of doing is stocking up.

A routine trip to Safeway also yielded shocking results. It was so crowded, families shouting at each other to pick up all the bags of rice or pasta. I went to a section where I saw two older ladies hitting each other over the last bag of rice. It was truly disappointing because now you know what happens when we all go against each other. 

Many people who were panic buying now have realized that they don’t need anything. However, they no longer can return items because of the risk of COVID-19. Other stores should follow in Costco’s lead and put limits on the number of items you can buy. Additionally, the amount of people in the stores increases the risk of community transmission greatly.

People may argue that it is necessary to stock up on important items. While this may be true, there is a limit to how much you need. People need to keep in mind that other people exist and stop panic buying. They may realize that their risk of getting the coronavirus is higher with every shopping trip.

In conclusion, the coronavirus, though a global pandemic, is also a social media and economic struggle since it spreads panic to an absurd degree and causes thousands to storm stores to panic buy.

PHOTO CREDIT: Featured image – Long lines at Costco; flickr.com

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