Point of No Return

Like many of you, I’ve tried to stay informed on the current situation with the novel coronavirus, particularly in the United States. Also, like many of you, I’ve attempted to understand the precautions and steps I need to take to keep myself, my family and my business as safe from the spread of this virus as possible.

Washing my hands? Um, yeah. Actually, why aren’t people washing their hands, anyway? It shouldn’t take a global pandemic for people to practice a little hygiene, right? I mean, what in the name of slimy, disgusting mitts is preventing some of you...

But I digress.

In no way am I minimizing this situation. According to CNN, at least 1,000 cases had been reported as of Wednesday morning in this country alone, with 31 fatalities. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has sent in the National Guard to New Rochelle and declared a 1-mile “containment” area around a hot zone where many cases have concentrated.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders have each canceled campaign rallies out of concern over large indoor crowds, and you know how important it must be for American political candidates to cancel an event meant to glorify themselves.

And don’t tell me that I shouldn’t be worried because it’s largely been proven to be fatal only to people 80 and older, as well as those with other medical conditions. I have loved ones that fill both of those categories. As do you. As does everybody you know. We live in a community that has shifted over the past decade or two to more of a retirement location. What happens if someone with the virus attends church here, or volunteers at the food pantry? Or the CHEER Center. Or works in a chemotherapy department of a local hospital?

Those examples aside, one infected person can change things very quickly. In New York, for instance, there are now more than 50 cases that officials are tracing back to one 50-year-old Manhattan attorney. He tested positive on March 2. Two days later, his 20-year-old son tested positive. Later that day, his wife and 14-year-old daughter both tested positive.

According to CNN.com, “So did the neighbor who drove him to the hospital. And a friend of the attorney. The friend’s wife, two sons and daughter tested positive that day, too. The day after, on March 5, the governor says eight other people connected to the attorney tested positive for the virus.”

This just continued forth, with members of the attorney’s synagogue testing positive a few days later, along with two friends of his and four more relatives. There were also caterers from a bar mitzvah the attorney attended who tested positive.

This thing can move quickly, and that’s what makes it terrifying.

But — and we’re circling back to the beginning of this — why so much toilet paper?

I get buying hand sanitizer. Avoiding handshakes seems to add up to me. I understand loading up on essentials in case you need to be home for a week or two. Nobody would question people stacking up old copies of the Coastal Point to read through in case you’re stuck on the couch. (Digital Editor’s note: And did we mention we have a brand-new website you can use on your phone? You don’t have to leave home for the news!) All of that makes complete sense to me.

But everywhere I look, from news shows to social media, I see empty shelves of toilet paper from sea to shining sea.

Point Poll: Be honest. How many rolls of toilet paper did you buy this week?

People are hoarding supplies as they prepare for the impact of coronavirus. Including toilet paper. Be honest. How many rolls of toilet paper did you buy this week?

You voted:

And not just a few empty shelves at the local grocery store, either. No, they show images from BJ’s and Costco of rows and rows of empty shelves where toilet paper would be if we weren’t panicking over this virus. Keep in mind what I’m saying here. Shelves of toilet paper from BJs and Costco. Those are the packages that have 942,000 rolls of toilet paper and require a flatbed truck to get home.

What are you people eating?

I’m reminded of when I lived in Atlanta and they were calling for an inch of snow to fall in three days. I went by the grocery store to pick up a couple of pounds of bacon — or something else its nutritional equivalent — and saw that the water, bread and toilet paper had been completely eradicated from the establishment.

I remember walking out of the store a little puzzled over the combination, and decided in my mind that people in Atlanta really like making French toast when there is a snowstorm, and that southern cooking must do ungodly things to people’s digestive systems.

Take precautions. Wash your hands. Don’t shake hands. But please, for the love of God, leave some TP for the rest of us.

Executive Editor

Darin is a native of Washington, D.C, and studied journalism at Temple University. He is a combat-veteran Marine, and has worked as a reporter and editor throughout the country. He is married and has one daughter, who doubles as his harshest critic.