After a week of surging coronavirus cases, long lines at grocery stores and government-mandated shutdowns, communities around the nation have begun to panic.
Clovis is no exception, as grocery stores around town have run out of basic necessities such as water, toilet paper, sanitizers and hygiene products.
It is understandable to be afraid, as never has an event such as the coronavirus pandemic sent the stock market into a dramatic spiral and shut down schools, athletic and entertainment events across the county.
But in these trying times it is important to remember that the community is in this together and that panicking will only make the situation worse. Clovis, after all, is ranked as the most caring city in California, so perhaps it is time we show it.
Panic buying items like toilet paper and sanitizers only makes it more difficult for others to obtain the basic necessities they need to live. It also makes seniors, the demographic that is most vulnerable to COVID-19, more at risk.
According to the United States Census, individuals 65 and older made up more than 12 percent of the population of Clovis as of 2018.
Many seniors are unable to brave the rowdy crowds that now pack stores such as Costco and Wal-Mart. If they do attempt to go out, they put themselves at a high risk of contracting the virus.
This makes it extremely difficult for seniors to attain life’s basic necessities if they do not know someone who can attain those items for them.
Panic buying hurts the average resident as well, as not everyone has the time to wait in the increasingly long lines that now wrap around grocery stores each morning. Many residents feel that seeing others panic buy water and toilet paper forces them to do the same, as they fear they will not get the supplies they need otherwise.
But while the aisles of empty grocery store shelves may give the impression that the country is running out of food, experts say food shortages are highly unlikely to happen soon.
On Sunday March 15, for example, Julie Anna Potts, chief executive of the North American Meat Institute, a trade group for beef, pork and turkey packers and producers, told the New York Times, “There is food being produced. There is food in warehouses… There is plenty of food in the country.”
Food experts from around the country are repeating what Potts said.
Allen Adamson, a consumer brand consultant who teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business, told The Washington Post, “Consumers’ irrational behavior will certainly do more damage than reality will.”
While it is not known how long the pandemic will affect the lives of everyday Americans, it is important to remember that this will not last forever.
Countries that have been hit hardest by the coronavirus, such as China and South Korea, are starting to see the numbers of COVID-19 cases taper off, according to The Conversation, a network of not-for-profit media outlets that publish news stories written by researchers and academics.
The global science community is also on the case. Since the outbreak began in China in December 2019, doctors and researchers have published 164 articles on COVID-19 on PubMed. Many of the articles are preliminary works on vaccines, treatments and clinical reports.
There are also already more than eight projects seeking a vaccine for the virus, though experts say a vaccine likely won’t be available until more than a year from now.
In the meantime, doctors are working on antiviral trials to treat those who are ill. There are more than 80 clinical trials analyzing coronavirus treatment, according to The Conversation.
While the point of this letter is to advise the Clovis community to not panic, we would also like to stress the difference between panicking and making smart choices to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Stocking your shed to the ceiling with toilet paper and sanitizer is an example of overacting, but taking steps to prevent the spread of the virus, such as washing your hands and refraining from attending large gatherings, is not.
Remember that while you think you are not at high risk, others who are around you might be. If you contract the virus and don’t experience symptoms you can still spread it to a family member or friend who is at a much higher risk.
The community is in this together, and together we can ensure that Clovis remains the safe, family-friendly city it has always been, even during a global pandemic.