SALT LAKE CITY – Is it a healthy dose of emergency preparedness or an irrational panic over the coronavirus? Utahns and people from all over the country flocked to stores over the weekend, buying bottled water and toilet paper just in case we see an outbreak.
Emergency coordinators say it’s normal for people to feel a sense of panic when it comes to a new disease. With the coronavirus spreading through China and South Korea, and with additional deaths in Washington state, it didn’t take long for people to worry about it spreading through the rest of the U.S.
Utah Division of Emergency Management Spokesman Joe Dougherty says, “The preparedness bug suddenly hit everyone.”
Dougherty says they frequently recommend people to stock up on food and water in cases of large emergencies or natural disasters. However, a virus doesn’t have any impact on your ability to get water delivered to your home.
“The treated drinking water that you have will be available indefinitely,” Dougherty says. “Our grocery delivery systems are not set up for everybody to make a run at the stores. We’re confident that all those supplies will be stocked up in short order.”
This kind of panic didn’t just happen in Utah. The Washington Post reports stores in California ran out of drinking water and Clorox wipes. The Wall Street Journal reports stores across the country are stocking up for increased demand. Plus, CNBC reports there has been an increase in the purchase of things like fruit snacks, dried beans, vitamins, energy drinks, and pretzels.
Dougherty says its good people are taking preparedness seriously, but, it may be better to think long-term when it comes to buying the supplies you need.
“A little bit at a time. Preparedness should just be a regular part of what you do once a week or once a month,” he says.
School districts in Utah are also stepping up their efforts to fight the spread of viruses. The Salt Lake City School District has its custodians using electrostatic sprayers to disinfect surfaces, regularly.
They can increase those sprayings if the need arises. Also, officials from the Canyons School District say they’ve purchase hand-held sprayers that can disinfect surfaces with a “hospital grade biocide.”