People keep ‘panic buying’ toilet paper in response to coronavirus — but you don’t need to stock up

People around the world are taking precautions in response to the coronavirus pandemic to protect themselves and prevent further spreading. Most of these are common-sense, professionally recommended actions like working from home and washing your hands regularly.

But as is the case in so many emergency situations, some people can’t help but panic and overreact, making rash decisions that do more harm than good.

Maybe the strangest trend of the coronavirus: panicked people are rushing to stores and fighting over the last supplies of… toilet paper?


It makes some sense that people are stocking up on food and supplies anticipating that they’ll be homebound for some time, and you can understand why people would cause a shortage of hand sanitizer and Purell.

But toilet paper has become the new hot commodity, and it’s left many people puzzled.

“Purchasing the toilet paper? I don’t get that one,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner told ABC 13. “No medical physician, doctor, anyone has said anything about the toilet paper.”

That hasn’t stopped people from “panic buying” toilet paper, leaving shelves across the nation empty and even inspiring Black Friday-esque brawls in supermarket aisles:

It appears to be based on false reports of a toilet paper shortage, causing people to stock up on more rolls than they need.

But it’s important to know that you do not need to stock up on toilet paper.

There has been no recommendation to buy toilet paper, and the panic over it inadvertently causes a shortage: with so many people buying bulk supplies, people who need it won’t be able to get it at all.

If you’re preparing to go on coronavirus lockdown, you should instead listen to the guidelines listed by the Department of Homeland Security:

• Store a two week supply of water and food.

• Periodically check your regular prescription drugs to ensure a continuous supply in your home.

• Have any nonprescription drugs and other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.

• Get copies and maintain electronic versions of health records from doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and other sources and store them, for personal reference. Get help accessing electronic health records.

• Talk with family members and loved ones about how they would be cared for if they got sick, or what will be needed to care for them in your home.

Department of Homeland Security

No mention of toilet paper. It’s important to be prepared during the coronavirus pandemic, but it’s important to avoid false information that can just cause further panic.

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