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Panic stockpiling unnecessary, causing more angst

The coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything most have seen before. A novel virus, sometimes mixed messages to the public, a measure of fear and above all uncertainty.

So it isn’t surprising that people are buying extra supplies. It’s a natural survival reaction and in many cases it makes good sense. People don’t want to be out doing a lot of extra shopping, so having staples on hand is reasonable. And people want cleaning and disinfecting supplies to clean their homes and office spaces to keep their families, colleagues and others as safe as possible.

But what we’ve seen locally and across the state and nation goes far beyond cautious stockpiling. A panicked run on toilet paper has been one of the most obvious displays of excessive hoarding. Stores everyone have bare shelves, after people bought carts full of toilet paper. That triggered more panic as shoppers, seeing the shelves emptying, decided they’d better stock up, even if they don’t really need it.

The temporary shortages have prompted price gouging by some unscrupulous stores, or by individuals who bought up large stocks of items to resell.

Hoarding much more than needed isn’t just unnecessary, it’s a selfish act that harms others.

Many people with lower incomes can only afford to buy the things they need for the week ahead. They don’t have a stockpile of staples, including toilet paper at home to carry them over.

Clearing the shelves of toilet paper and other staples when you don’t need them also hurts food shelves and other nonprofits who lend a hand to people in need. If people can’t buy toilet paper and other non-perishables they won’t be donating it to those agencies and those who need them won’t get them.

In many respects, the COVID-19 outbreak has brought out the best in humanity. Most people are showing genuine concern and taking the safety measures recommended to help safeguard themselves and their families and to slow the spread of the virus.

But it also brings out some of the worst attributes of human nature. Selfish hoarding only adds to the anxiety at a time when caution and calm are needed.

— Free Press of Mankato

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