Panicking Is Not Protection: Put an End to the Coronavirus Hysteria

The+source+of+the+novel+coronavirus+was+said+to+be+an+open+market+in+Wuhan%2C+China%2C+where+live+animals+were+being+sold.+While+this+family+of+viruses+typically+only+affects+animals%2C+several+strains+are+zoonotic%2C+meaning+that+they+have+spread+to+humans+as+well.+

Nate Taylor

The source of the novel coronavirus was said to be an open market in Wuhan, China, where live animals were being sold. While this family of viruses typically only affects animals, several strains are zoonotic, meaning that they have spread to humans as well.

Lauren Hsu, Staff Writer

Judging by the cleaned-out shelves at nationwide retailers like Target and Costco, one would think Irvine is preparing for an apocalyptic doomsday. In actuality, people are becoming borderline hysterical in response to the coronavirus. While many concerns regarding the virus are valid, selfishly stockpiling goods will only contribute to public fear.

However, we should not undermine the real danger of the virus: over 100,000 cases and 3,000 deaths have been reported worldwide as of March 7, and world leaders are scrambling to control the pandemic. Orange County became the location of the third known coronavirus case in the United States after a patient from Wuhan, China tested positive for the disease on Jan. 26, according to the New York Times.

“Panic-buying” is a phenomenon that is currently sweeping the nation as the threat of the coronavirus looms on the horizon. 

“[Customers] look like they’re stockpiling different resources, like toilet paper, water, hand sanitizer. Even common medicine like Aspirin and NyQuil is running out,” senior and Walmart employee Alen Benyamin said. “As soon as the pallets for water hit the floor, they’re almost automatically gone because people take five, ten each person…A lot of our shelves are empty.”

However, a reaction this extreme is disproportionate to the actual crisis. Retail prices for disinfectants and protective gear have skyrocketed to four or five times their original cost.

On Amazon, third-party sellers are price gouging bottles of Purell for hundreds of dollars. But in Irvine, the panic has escalated past this point — at a local Target, the shelves have been emptied of yogurt, and at a Trader Joe’s, there are no longer potatoes. Both of these foods are perishable and essentially useless in the event of an emergency. 

Purchasing goods in excess only causes shortages and perpetuates public hysteria, depriving others of basic necessities and creating a vicious consumer cycle that ultimately benefits nobody.

A primary example of this is the stockpiling of face masks, which prevents healthcare providers from accessing them for patients. Store-bought masks are not even effective in protecting the general public from contracting the coronavirus, according to United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams. 

The majority of Irvine residents panicking about the virus ignore the fact that it has only a 2% death rate, according to the Washington Post. Those most susceptible to the coronavirus are the elderly and people with preexisting conditions, which make up only a small percentage of our city’s population.

As soon as the pallets for water hit the floor, they’re almost automatically gone because people take five, ten each person…A lot of our shelves are empty”

— Alen Benyamin

The epicenter of the nation’s outbreaks isn’t even remotely close to Southern California—the majority of fatalities were from a Seattle nursing home, with the exception of two patients in Florida and one in Northern California.

People who are worried about catching the virus should wash their hands regularly and avoid going into public spaces while their immune systems are compromised. Buying hand sanitizer, Clorox wipes and similar products in limited quantities is also a safe option, but allowing yourself to be swept up in hysteria and driven to ridiculous extremes will do nothing to quell the irrational fear of the coronavirus, nor mitigate the severity of the virus itself.