Toilet Paper Battles During the Siege of COVID

Toilet Paper Battles During the Siege of COVID

Toilet Paper Battles During the Siege of COVID

Who would’ve ever thought that someday normal people would be fighting over toilet paper? Yet here are, during a worldwide COVID-19 outbreak, and fights are erupting in stores for TP as if it were a flat screen TV on Black Friday. Which shouldn’t be happening either, by the way.

Check out what happened in New South Wales, Australia, in the Battle of the Toilet Rolls:

Police in New South Wales issued this statement:

“There is no need for it. It isn’t the Thunderdome, it isn’t Mad Max, we don’t need to do that.”

The Land Down Under may have given the world the Mad Max movie series, but the last I checked Australia is a sophisticated First World nation, not a dystopian wasteland. And those women in the brawl weren’t exactly Road Warriors, either.

toilet paper


Yet in a nation far to the north of Australia, after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami which claimed thousands, Japanese citizens politely queued up, waiting for stores to open. But in 2020 Aussies were fighting over . . . toilet paper.

Here in the United States, people are also hoarding the precious toilet paper commodity, although fights haven’t erupted. Yet.

In Los Angeles, which currently has 14 cases of COVID in LA county, Costco is limiting its toilet paper. At a Target store, bottles of bleach have vanished. Other Angelenos are worried about standing too close to other people, and about shaking hands, some preferring elbow bumps. And there is constant hand-washing everywhere, although that’s something everyone should be doing anyway, especially after using the loo.

Here in the Kansas City area, where health officials just identified a first case in the metro, toilet paper has become scarce in Costco stores. On Friday evening, at my local Costco, there was none to be had (although I had no problem buying a large package at a grocery store. Go figure.) Plus, at the pharmacy counter I overheard people asking about hand sanitizer. We’re out, said the pharmacist.

Mind you, this was before doctors identified the first Kansas City area case.

Can we just do like the famous British World War II poster? Keep Calm and Carry On. 

That doesn’t mean ignore the facts. After all, at the time of this writing, the United States has passed the 500 confirmed cases point. And this isn’t the end, either; Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the Trump administration would “take whatever action is appropriate” to contain the virus. This may include travel restrictions in areas with high numbers of cases. However, he said the actions wouldn’t be as draconian as in China.

“I don’t think it would be as draconian as ‘nobody in and nobody out. But there’ll be, if we continue to get cases like this, particularly at the community level, there will be what we call mitigation.” 

Of course the situation is serious. But I lay the sense of panic at the feet of . . . you guessed it. . . the media.

For example, on Sunday morning, CBS News published an article at their website about the 1918 flu pandemic. Which has nothing to do with COVID-19, since COVID is not the flu. Plus, our current medical care far outstrips anything from 100 years ago. Yet, CBS thought it would offer up a “cautionary tale.”

So what’s next — a “cautionary tale” about the Black Death?

Dr. Drew Pinsky castigated the media for fueling the panic. Especially, he says, since flu claims many more victims than COVID.

“Essentially the entire problem we are having is due to panic, not the virus. I was saying this six weeks ago. We have six deaths from the coronavirus, 18,000 from the flu. Why isn’t the message, ‘Get your flu vaccine'”?

“The entirety of the problem now is that people are being pushed into bankruptcy. Travel is down. The supply chain is being interrupted because of panic…. It is a press-induced panic that will have real consequences. It will not be the virus.”

So it’s no wonder that people fight over toilet paper, when the press fills its 24/7 news cycle with stuff that makes the average viewer think we’re in the End Days. Plus don’t get me started on social media — it seems that yesterday’s constitutional experts have now become authorities on infectious diseases.

If you have concerns, follow the directives of the Centers for Disease Control. For example, stay home if you’re sick, avoid those who are sick, and wash your hands frequently. And whatever you do, don’t fight over toilet paper.


Featured image: Steve Snodgrass/flickr/cropped/CC BY 2.0.

Written by

Kim is a pint-sized patriot who packs some big contradictions. She is a Baby Boomer who never became a hippie, an active Republican who first registered as a Democrat (okay, it was to help a sorority sister's father in his run for sheriff), and a devout Lutheran who practices yoga. Growing up in small-town Indiana, now living in the Kansas City metro, Kim is a conservative Midwestern gal whose heart is also in the Seattle area, where her eldest daughter, son-in-law, and grandson live. Kim is a working speech pathologist who left school system employment behind to subcontract to an agency, and has never looked back. She describes her conservatism as falling in the mold of Russell Kirk's Ten Conservative Principles. Don't know what they are? Google them!

  • Scott says:

    “So what’s next — a “cautionary tale” about the Black Death?”.. For San Francisco, that might be appropriate… As for the media-induced panic, it’s not accidental, it’s the next phase in trying to undo the 2016 / win the 2020 elections, because ORANGE MAN BAD!..

    TDS is a MUCH bigger threat to America than COVID 19…

    • GWB says:

      because ORANGE MAN BAD!
      Only partly, Scott. Oddly, only part of the fear-mongering over this is tying it to the Golden Scalpweasel*. A LOT of it is simply the need for a threat against which to react and struggle for survival. I think it’s a human need to actually struggle – and reporters have a need to tell folks about that struggle – and that just really isn’t necessary in today’s America. But, suddenly, here’s the threat to extinguish mankind! OMG! It’s a VIRUS! Quick, line up experts, publish How To Save Yourself articles, demand somebody DO something! It’s why we’re now naming winter storms. *eyeroll*

      (The flip side is the need to somehow ‘fix’ the world so no one has to struggle. Which comes out in our age of wealth and comfort as … socialism. A whole other rant….)

      (* Yes, some are exploiting that. But it seems to – kinda like coronavirus – only really take seat in people with compromised reason systems; ones previously compromised by TDS.)

      • Scott says:

        Good points. Yeah, I know it’s more complicated than just TDS for many of them, but it is a significant subset… Being on the front lines of this, I get and set policy regarding response to COVID and things like it. Are we modifying our response to minimize exposure? Yes. Should some of those modifications just be the way we normally do business to avoid other diseases? Yes. Are we going to go overboard and act crazy in our response to the risks? Only to the extent its forced on us by the county / state/ feds… Some firefighters in Washington and AZ have already been quarantined due to exposure. We will try to avoid that through proper precautions, but the possibility exists, because that’s a decision above our level.

      • If it sneezes, it leads…

  • GWB says:

    normal people would be fighting over toilet paper?
    The funny part is there shouldn’t be (at least in the US) any fear over supply chain issues. The paper for our behinds comes from Canada.

    people asking about hand sanitizer
    Personally, I think our overuse of hand sanitizer is why our immune systems are often not what they should be.

    Yet, CBS thought it would offer up a “cautionary tale.”
    Ironically, at the very end, the moral of the story is:
    “”The biggest lesson from the 1918 pandemic is clearly to tell the truth.””
    It doesn’t apply in the way they think it does, though. (They actually mention President Wilson as the bad guy! Do they grasp why?)

    Why isn’t the message, ‘Get your flu vaccine’”?
    And this totally obscures anything else smart he might have to say. *facepalm* Because how often do they get the strain correct when guessing which one to make? They guessed wrong again this year!
    And, doubly ironic, the message should probably be: For all those tips on how to deal with coronavirus? Do them to avoid the flu, too! Wash your hands, don’t cough into the open air or into your hand, don’t wipe your nose then shake hands, stay home if you are ill, etc.

    The supply chain is being interrupted because of panic
    No. The supply chain is interrupted because people are doing one of the biggest things you can do to contain a pandemic: Restrict Travel. And, in China, actual full-on quarantine. Because it’s actually necessary there.

    when the press fills its 24/7 news cycle with stuff that makes the average viewer think we’re in the End Days.
    Amen, sister. If it bleeds coughs up mucus, it ledes!

  • Wfjag says:

    Plenty of toilet paper, and soap, and soups, rice, noodles and other foods in my town, and hand sanitizers are on the shelves. My spouse just ordered online the ingredients to make sanitizers and spray bottles. I just made several gallons of spaghetti meat sauce and have frozen vegetables in the freezers. So, should we be told to self quarantine for a couple of weeks, food won’t be a problem. And, if there’s no quarantine, we’ll still eat that food.

    The President’s restrictions on travel from China at the end of January bought the US about 45 to 60 days to prepare. People fighting over toilet paper are too ignorant to use that time usefully. You can order it online for a case to be delivered in a day or two.

    Is there reason for concern? Yes. Is there reason to prepare? Yes. Is there reason to panic? Absolutely not.

  • Charles N. Steele says:

    “Normal people fighting over toilet paper…” I don’t think those are normal people.

    Coincidentally I was about to buy mutual fund shares anyway. The timing of the panic has been perfect for me; much as I hate seeing both the disease and the hysteria, it’s a sudden opportunity.

  • TimTam says:

    The funny thing is that if it gets that bad your toilet wont flush. If everyone is too sick to do the toilet paper supply chain, they’ll be too sick work at the water department.

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