Stockpiling Toilet Paper Only Helps the Coronavirus


Hawkeye Proofreader, Proofreader

Currently, Nevada has 7 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus from Wuhan. Of those cases, only two are in Washoe County. Despite this, hand sanitizer is flying off the shelves and bulk toilet paper is a luxury to find. It’s as if Pestilence, the Horseman of the Apocalypse, has descended upon the world.

Although COVID-19 has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, 80% of the confirmed cases are in China, S. Korea, Italy and Iran; America only has 1% of all confirmed cases. Likewise, out of the 127,000 confirmed cases, 53% of everyone infected has already recovered. Yet, people are reselling hand sanitizer online for $300 and medical items such as masks, over-the-counter cough medicines, and even toilet paper are constantly out of stock as people prepare for the pandemic. Even if it’s a little over the top, this preventative care harms no one, right?

Wrong. Ironically, the mad dash for people to buy supplies protect themselves harms the group at people most at risk of dying from COVID-19: people who are immunocompromised, with disabilities, and the elderly.

Masks are commonly used by people with respiratory issues and people who are immunocompromised, having weaker immune systems. With healthy, abled people buying masks in bulk (despite the CDC cautioning that masks have little benefit on healthy people), the people who depend on masks daily for their safety are now at greater risk. Similarly, people with chronic pain issues who frequently take OTC medications such as Tylenol or Aleeve may now have to overpay for the basic medicines that help them get through the day. Hand sanitizers are a necessity for people with weak immune systems who need to stay hygienic, since something as simple as the flu could be a prolonged hospital visit. Items that previously weren’t considered in high demand are now starting to disappear, putting the people who regularly depend on them in harms way.

What about toilet paper? Although it’s not a daily medical necessity like masks or hygiene products, the “panic buying” has resulted in price gouging by stores, where stores drastically raise prices in response to the high demand of people buying toilet paper. While the middle- and upper-class families can spare these few extra dollars, low-income families who have to accommodate higher medical costs are put into a dire situation. The people who need the least to combat COVID-19 are stockpiling excessively, leaving the people who need the most with the least.

Ultimately, COVID-19 is a serious world issue, but buying out all the toilet paper from Costco will do no good. The people at high risk are the elderly and immunocompromised; for every other healthy person, it’s just a nasty coughing bug that they can bounce back from in a few days. Currently, the fatality rate for people under 30 is 0.02%; the fatality rate for people over 80 is 14%. Take good hygiene measures to protect yourself and the people around you, but consider that some actions that seem to protect yourself and your family may actually be harming others at greater risk.