Watching Americans storm the shelves of supermarkets for foodstuffs would be hilarious if it wasn’t so alarming.
Hong Kong, with a population of about 7.5 million and has seen a little more than 180 cases* of diagnosed COVID-19 infections with four confirmed deaths. About a month ago we had a three-day to one-week run on toilet paper because of social media rumors about shortages and that 2-ply and 4-ply TP could be used as an alternative to masks. Masks had been sold out citywide for about two weeks.
But, and this is a city where almost everything has to be flown or shipped in, we never ran out of food on the shelves of supermarkets. The wet markets and produce markets remained well-stocked. No one panicked and cleared the shelves of baked beans and cans of chicken soup.
Society has NOT collapsed, but because of the ineptitude of the Trump Administration, the misinformation from Fox News and right-wing talk radio, as well as the constant barrage of fear-mongering on CNN and MSNBC and network television, from here it looks like the world of Mad Max is one bad shopping weekend away.
Calm down. Turn off Fox News. Ignore President Trump. Get your COVID-19 information from respected legitimate health organizations — Johns Hopkins, the Mayo Clinic, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, WHO, etc. — I would recommend the CDC website, but the Trump Administration has infected most US Government sites with its own brand of political opportunism and ignorance by this point.
If you must listen to anyone from this current regime, then let it be Dr. Anthony Fauci. A controversial figure during the height of the AIDS epidemic, in the end, he helped save millions of lives.
Hoarding canned goods, disinfectants, soaps, and antibacterials will not save you, because you are denying the less-fortunate the opportunity to protect themselves. That’s how diseases work, people. A former colleague who recently had surgery for prostate cancer puts the unfairness and irrational binge-shopping into perspective: for people with suppressed immune systems or diminished control of their bodily functions, an uncomfortable inconvenience threatens to become a catastrophe.
Humanity must face pandemics together; viral and bacterial diseases care little for borders and treaties, for race or religion, wealth or poverty, their purpose is to survive, thrive and multiply. We are just the hosts and we can accommodate these parasitic infections to their benefit, or we can embrace our humanity and work to halt their spread as a team.
My fellow Americans, seriously, you do not need a case of baked beans. Or a month’s supply of pasta or hand sanitizer or multiple 24-packs of Bounty paper towels.
But you know who might need it at this time? That elderly widow or widower down your street or in your apartment building whose family barely ever shows up. The senior living community in your town that you never gave a moment’s thought to, until one of your parents or a relative had to move there; they might be afraid to go shopping. Knowing Fox News’ demographic, they’re probably both confused and scared out of their wits right now.
In a country that claims to have God on its side almost as much as it claims to be “the best”, it’s disheartening to realize that the United States has turned its back on science; on the power of good governance, and on personal and social responsibility.
Calm the FUCK down.
And wash your hands.
*UPDATE: Last week Hong Kong saw upward of 50 more infections, most if not all coming from travelers returning to the City. This is why the irresponsible initial reactions from the Trump Administration and other governments are so dangerous and self-defeating. Hong Kong has its act together, but unless cooler heads and practical, scientific responses are put in place globally, things could get worse before they get better. A 14-day self-quarantine for the city has been put in place.