Pandemic Panic Leads to Over-Buying and Hoarding


Caitlynn Kelley

This picture shows two aisles of dog food that are vacant at the Super Target in Apple Valley. It has been proven by the World Health Organization that the coronavirus is zoonotic, meaning that the virus can be transferred from animals to humans. The CDC recommends that you keep limited contact with your pets if you do contract COVID-19.

Caitlynn Kelley, Journalist

Panic is spreading all across the United States due to the spread of the coronavirus. Also known as COVID-19, the coronavirus is from a large family of viruses, which includes SARS and MERS-CoV. Scientists now believe that the virus was spread from bats that were able to spread it to animals and seafood that were sold at a market in Wuhan, China. The coronavirus is zoonotic, which means it can be spread from animals to humans. The symptoms of the coronavirus are mild flu-like symptoms; however, these symptoms could get worse under certain circumstances. Those who are elderly, have respiratory issues, or have diabetes are at risk of having severe symptoms, which include: difficulty breathing, pain in the chest, and new confusion. 

In response, panic-driven Americans and citizens from all over the world have been going to different stores, buying hoards of items; especially, oddly enough, toilet paper; to prepare for the worst in these times of uncertainty. Even in severe cases, there have been people who are fighting and bickering with people over food items, toilet paper, baskets, and so on; there is a video circulating online of women fighting over toilet paper packages. Ordinary people and experts have been saying that it is unnecessary for people to panic and buy nonessential items, such as toilet paper and cases of water bottles. An expert on anxiety and stress, Lynn Bufka, stated that people are panicking over the coronavirus because it is an unknown illness. She also stated that people are buying masks, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer to feel sufficient in doing their part to stop the spread of the virus. There have been three confirmed cases of the coronavirus in San Bernardino County. It is important to note that there are no known deaths yet from the coronavirus in San Bernardino County as of the eighteenth of March, 2020. 

Junior Kaytlin Reyes details how the coronavirus has negatively impacted her family, “The coronavirus has affected my family for the worst. My brother has a weaker immune system, so this [the coronavirus] may affect him. My mother also can’t work without pay because she works with older patients at a doctor’s office.” 

Caitlynn Kelley
This is a Stater Bros public service announcement sign that is in front of a freezer at the Stater Bros in Victorville. Stater Bros, like many stores across the United States, announced that they would cut down service hours due to the coronavirus. The new store hours are from 8 AM to 9 PM. Many Stater Bros shoppers in the High Desert were aggravated due to how the shelves quickly emptied, leaving barely enough produce for everyone.

Reyes gives an account of what she saw at all of the different stores that she has been to, “We have gone to Stater Bros and Walmart. We drove by Costco but decided not to go in once we saw the huge line. When we went to the other stores; it was a mess. There wasn’t any toilet [paper] or napkins. Basically almost all of the shelves were wiped. We managed to get a couple frozen foods, fruits, and vegetables, but everything was scattered.” Although she didn’t see any fights, she did witness people running to beat others in line and other “selfish” acts.

Her family’s viewpoint on the whole coronavirus pandemic has changed. “My family never thought this would be such a big thing until our school called; that’s when we panicked on what to do. We already didn’t have much in our fridge and we were low in what we needed….”

Regarding the video and people being uncooperative in general, Reyes said, “I have seen people post about others being rude to people and verbally fighting over things and [being] ridiculously absurd about this epidemic.” She thinks people who are over-buying or hoarding items need to see the bigger picture.

“Those that are buying 40 Costco packages of toilet paper and water need to calm down. It is not just about them, but everyone. It should be about thinking about others and reducing your portion. I think instead of all of us being greedy and thinking we need so much, we should only grab what is necessary and try to shorten usage of things. I understand many are just thinking of their families, but they also have to be courteous to the rest.”

Senior Jordan Ford’s family has also been impacted by the virus. “My family has been affected, mostly by us having to cancel plans, which is not that bad.”

I had someone cuss me out while I was grabbing frosting, because they were grabbing every single can, as if they planned to just live off of frosting for the whole quarantine.”

— Jordan Ford

He states how chaotic his weekend shopping went. “We had to go to multiple stores to get everything we needed. We had to stand in line just to get into Costco, and then we had to stand in another line just to get milk, eggs, and paper towels. While getting milk, some lady actually hit me with her cart because she was annoyed that I had been in front of her. We went to Winco, and the shelves were cleared. I had someone cuss me out while I was grabbing frosting, because they were grabbing every single can, as if they planned to just live off of frosting for the whole quarantine.” 



Caitlynn Kelley
This is a public service announcement from Target telling shoppers to limit their purchases of toilet paper. Toilet paper has actually become one of the main items that people have been buying due to the panic that has spread across the United States about the Coronavirus. Many people believe that the overbuying and hoarding of toilet paper is irrational, including Senior Jordan Ford. Ford states, “I think it is completely unnecessary for people to be stocking up and hoarding things like toilet paper, because their reasons for doing so are completely irrational. Even if you do get mandatory quarantined in your home for a week or two, you will not need 50 rolls of toilet paper and 20 pounds of cheese to survive.”

His family’s normal shopping routine was skewed due to the panic the pandemic caused. “My family had to shop differently. While we didn’t want to stock and buy a lot of food and supplies at once, we also knew it was going to be difficult to go shopping next week, as the hysteria likely wouldn’t ease up by then.”

He described what behavior he witnessed in the stores he went to, “I saw different people at different stores, with some yelling and screaming at employees for not letting them buy 20 things of toilet paper, while some people were nicer than normal to help ease the panic.”

Ford believes that the hoarding and panic buying of toilet paper and other unnecessary items are unjustified. “I think it is completely unnecessary for people to be stocking up and hoarding things like toilet paper, because their reasons for doing so are completely irrational.” He believes a certain amount of items purchased are just excessive.

He states that he believes this hysteria is more concerning than the actual virus itself because, “it just shows that, when something bad happens, our society is not going to react healthily.” 

Regarding the virus’s effect in her household, junior Viviann Martinez said, “We haven’t necessarily been affected by the quarantine, but my mom works at a hotel and no one is staying there at the moment. So, there’s really no work for her to do.” 

She stated that her parents struggled trying to find items at different stores due to people over-buying items because of panic. She also said they have not seen any fights while shopping.

Caitlynn Kelley
This is a picture of rows of soup canisters that are empty in the Super Target located in Apple Valley. Senator Coryn of Texas spread misinformation that the coronavirus outbreak started because a woman ate bat soup. He also stated how the coronavirus is a “Chinese virus.” This furthers the heightened xenophobia towards people of Asian descent that has intensified due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Martinez describes what things her family is buying to be prepared during the quarantine, “We’ve just been trying to buy necessities like water, canned food (since it doesn’t spoil quickly), and toilet paper because that’s what everyone has been deciding to stock up on…”

She describes the videos that she’s seen of violence and panic because of the coronavirus, “I’ve seen a lot of videos of people fighting over a pack of toilet paper and videos of mothers crying because they can’t find baby wipes or diapers for their babies.” 

Martinez finds the hoarding of items to be ridiculous and unnecessary, “I think that people buying so much at a time is ridiculous and it starts an ongoing cycle because those who don’t want to buy in bulk are forced to because they’re worried that they won’t have any [certain necessary items, food, etc]. Since everyone else is buying it, they end up overbuying too. Also, not everyone can afford to buy so much at a time.” 

The coronavirus has evoked panic from Americans to other people who live across the globe. It is important to communities and to society that there are enough items for everyone to go around and that people stay calm during times of duress. To track the coronavirus, use this helpful interactive map by John Hopkins University and Medicine. Remember to stay safe by  washing your hands and practicing social distancing to lessen the spread of the virus. Check the news and Victor Valley Union High School District website for more updates about COVID-19.