Some of the hundreds of people queued in multiple lines wait to pay for their purchases at a Costco store, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus, in Burnaby, B.C., on Monday, March 16, 2020. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the closure of Canada’s border to those who aren’t Canadian citizens or permanent residents to slow the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

B.C. VIEWS: The good, bad and the ugly of COVID-19

Hoarding doesn’t help anyone – it is unnecessary, selfish, and promotes fear

It was a little emotional walking into my local grocery store the other day.

I had stayed away until necessity (and hungry cats) got the better of the advice to stay home.

The empty shelves were expected, but the image was nonetheless jarring.

Perhaps if I lived in a region where natural disasters were prevalent, I would be more accustomed to seeing the kind of panic buying we’ve seen in so many cities.

The mood in the store was subdued. The numbers were small and the people who were there (some wearing masks) kept their distance. But whole sections had been stripped bare.

I thought about how a healthcare worker might react, stopping off to buy a few things at the end of a shift.

The coronavirus is bringing out the good, the bad and the ugly of our society.

READ MORE: B.C. lays out guidelines for construction industry, but keeps sites open

There is plenty of good to see. It can be found in the dedication by people working collaboratively and aggressively to get a handle on this disease. They’re on the front lines, treating people who may or may not have the virus. They’re in the labs, at the clinics and in front of the cameras, ensuring we have the most current and factual information.

They’re also behind the scenes, helping maintain the intricate workings of our world, staffing daycares, utility stations, newsrooms, fire halls and emergency call centres. They are our neighbours helping neighbours.

They’re even restocking those empty store shelves.

But with the good comes the bad.

These are the people who ignore advice to wash their hands, restrict personal contact and keep a safe distance from others.

They’re also the ones who feel the best defence from this respiratory illness is a garage full of toilet paper.

Hoarding doesn’t help anyone. It is unnecessary, selfish, and promotes fear.

As the Retail Council of B.C. assures us, we are not going to run out of essential supplies, provided the public acts rationally.

And then there’s the ugly. It didn’t take long for the ethically challenged to figure out how to capitalize on a fearful public.

Fraudsters are using the pandemic to solicit personal information to separate you from your money. A recent example is a text message, purportedly from the Canadian Red Cross, which offers “free” surgical masks in exchange for a steep delivery fee. (The Red Cross says it is not involved.)

But more ugly still is the fear and misinformation being spread, either on purpose or through ignorance. These include suggestions the disease is no worse than the seasonal flu, or that young people can’t get it. Both notions are dangerously false.

There is ample good information out there, and many credible and talented journalists working to get that information to us.

At both the provincial and federal level, health experts are keeping us informed in a transparent and timely way. It is important we listen to these experts and do what they tell us.

We all have a part to play in this pandemic, however small. (I made a point of thanking the checkout clerk at the grocery store for being there. It wasn’t much, but it brought a smile.)

We need to stay safe, stay calm, and help others if we can.

We truly are all in this together.

Greg Knill is a columnist and former Black Press editor. Email him at greg.knill@blackpress.ca.


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC ViewsCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Q&A: Interior Health CEO answers questions on COVID-19 response

Susan Brown, president and CEO of Interior Health, answers questions regarding COVID-19

Positivity rocks! Golden resident brings positivity to community through painted rocks.

Brandi Romano hand crafts the rocks with her kids as a distraction from COVID-19

6.5-magnitude earthquake in Idaho shakes the Kootenays

An earthquake was reportedly felt just before 5 p.m. throughout parts of B.C. and Alberta

Avalanche blocked Highway 1 yesterday

Highway 1 over Rogers Pass was closed for most of the day

West Kootenay couple escapes Spain – safe, sound, and in self-isolation

BC couple Garrett Kucher and Tory Apostoliuk make it home after almost a week of lockdown in Spain

B.C. couple celebrates 61st anniversary through seniors’ home window

Frank and Rena Phillips marked occasion at Nanaimo Seniors Village this week while social distancing

A look at some of the B.C. inventors creating life-saving tools in fight against COVID-19

Groups across B.C. are working together to create what they hope will help people affected by the pandemic

Association launches French-language games, online tools for families learning at home

Games, culture and vocabulary included in new virtual resources

‘There can be no ambiguity’: Travellers brought home to B.C. must self-isolate

Health Minister Adrian Dix said the mandatory isolation must be abided by

Interior Health confirms five additional cases in Okanagan COVID-19 outbreak

The total amount of confirmed cases at Bylands Nurseries Ltd. is 19; no further cases expected

55+ BC Games cancelled amid COVID-19 concerns

Greater Victoria set to host 2021 event

ANKORS East Kootenay details concerns surrounding harm reduction amid COVID-19

Harm reduction providers are having to keep up with rapidly changing situation

BC Hydro offers three-month bill ‘holiday’ for those affected by COVID-19

Industrial customers can defer half of their power bills

Some April Fool’s Day jokes bring much-needed laughter; others tone deaf to COVID-19

Police are warning the public not to use the ongoing pandemic as a punchline

Most Read