Hoarding is costing people their lives


Cartoon by Bailey Christensen

A simple way shown to make your own bandana out of household materials.

Bailey Christensen, Assistant Broadcast Editor

With the introduction of a new pandemic comes human instinct to simply panic. The broken record comes as no surprise; whether a natural disaster or a viral outbreak, humans descend on stores like hungry raptors buying enough water bottles to flood a basement or enough canned food to last half a lifetime. We find ourselves once again in these shoes as we lock ourselves in our house due to the COVID-19 virus. Surprisingly, out of all of these products being snagged, there’s one undeniable fan favorite: toilet paper.

Similarly, according to CNBC people are stockpiling toiletries, hand sanitizers, masks, medicine and other cleaning supplies. However, this tendency to hoard reveals light on the human psyche.

Whenever disasters strike communities, our core values and beliefs tend to reveal themselves. Sparks of selflessness, donating and helping clear the rubble left behind, tend to help society rebuild. Victims are given a helping hand during unimaginable chaos of earthquakes, hurricanes or even tornados, you name it.

So why have humans under the midst of uncertainty been driven to wiping shelves empty, similarly to a hungry pack of wolves fighting over the last piece of meat? What happened towards rebuilding together, protecting neighbors and reaching the end of the pandemic together?

According to Psychology Today, psychologists suggest that stockpiling gives people a sense of control during an uncertain event when they otherwise feel powerless. Ultimately people are paying for comfort. Fear is known to trigger the fight or flight response, leaving people to gain what they believe is necessary for their isolation, no matter who that may hurt in the process.

Society can make it through this crisis, but only if we follow simple rules.

Buying what you need is essential, but don’t hoard. According to The Conversation, Grocery stores are continuing to restock their shelves with no indication of supply chains having chances of being shut down.

Grocers, such as Hy-Vee and Walmart, wisely are beginning to limit purchases of toilet paper and other items to ensure available products don’t end up in the grasps of panicking buyers or profiteers looking to make money off those late to the stock.

While hoarding toilet paper may not seem like a huge issue due to the fact that toilet paper is not a necessity, lives are being put at risk due towards the buying of surgical masks and gloves.

From the words of doctor Eric Patel in the Los Angeles Times, the profession is something happily chosen, but the protection they use to feel has been diminished within this raging global pandemic.Within the hard-hit Italian region known as Lombardy, around 20% of healthcare workers have become infected by the coronavirus. Each infection leaves less helping hands within the force to help those falling ill.

Hospitals around the country are having to ration masks in preparation for the high rising surge of admitted patients. Instead of being able to use a new mask with each patient, doctors are forced to only use one to two a day.Up until recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended medical professionals use N95 masks, the highest level of protection. Unfortunately, now it is advised to use surgical masks of a decreased amount of protection. Why would they decrease the protection of health professionals? They do this purely to stretch the stockpile of masks that can barely cover one percent of the health field due to the public hoarding of these masks.This is ultimately counterproductive. Instead of collecting these masks to fight off other customers for the last pack of toilet paper at their local grocery, the public needs to stay home because it is ultimately safer.

People buy and hoard masks to protect themselves. But in reality, protecting medical professionals is imperative to protecting the nation. If even a fraction of doctors and nurses test positive, no one will be able to get the medical care they need for coronavirus or other serious conditions such as stroke.

The federal government should implement restrictions on who can purchase personal protective equipment like masks and gloves and those who have already purchased a supply of surgical masks need to contact local hospitals about donating or selling them to help our first responders.

If doctors and nurses die due to inadequate protection, all the stacks of toilet paper and canned green beans across the planet won’t save you. Buy only what you need to help put an end to this pandemic for good. COVID-19 panic leads empty shelves and unnecessary stockpiles.