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

Vernon businesses get a boost from chamber program

Residents can support local business from home buy purchasing gift certificates

Food support continues for Vernon students despite school closures

Kids aren’t going hungry thanks to Kal Rotary and Starfish Backpack program

General exposure to public low after inmate tests positive for COVID-19: Interior Health

The Okanagan Correctional Centre inmate is receiving appropriate care

WATCH: Enderby seniors stay fit in self-isolation

Residents have taken to their balconies to follow along in exercise class

North Okanagan district discourages campfires amid COVID-19

Campfire ban in effect for RDCO but not for neighbour district in the north

VIDEO: How doctors in Canada will decide who lives and dies if pandemic worsens

Officials in several provinces have been developing guides so that doctors don’t feel alone

Mitchell’s Musings: Pandemics and parking meters don’t add up

Despite COVID-19 crisis, City of Vernon insists on paid parking downtown

Woman raised in Shuswap on COVID-19 frontline with field hospital in Italy

Bev Kauffeldt is leading a medical team at the temporary hospital run by Samaritan’s Purse

Colouring book will feature images of Summerland

Project is a joint initiative of Summerland Museum and Summerland Community Arts Council

KGH Foundation establishes COVID-19 response fund to support frontline workers

Doctors, nurses and staff have been challenged to pivot operations to prepare for the COVID-19 pandemic

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

Emergency services respond to numerous incidents on Highway 1

Today there were multiple semi truck crashes on Highway 1 and a collision by the hospital

Most Read