By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

My wife’s car has a light show going on across her dashboard, thanks to a problem with the computer, so I’ve been taking her to work.  This morning, after making her lunch, I told her I was going to stop by the store to pick up some more turkey, provolone cheese, and a handful of other items.

On the news I have been seeing reports of stores running out of items due to a panic that has grabbed hold of Americans over this coronavirus (Covid-19) thing, and I figured that is only happening in places where the coronavirus has made the largest landfall; places like the Seattle area, San Francisco, and New York City.  Aside from some folks being quarantined at March Air Base up the freeway from where I live, the only Southern California cases have been out in the desert communities (Palm Springs/Coachella Valley area).  I never expected, however, that the kind of hysteria gripping average Americans in other parts of the country would infect the minds of the folks in my little conservative Southern California niche in the Temecula Valley.

As I left my wife’s place of employment, I drove by the local Costco.  The parking lot was full, people were everywhere, but to be honest, that’s pretty typical of the Costco in Temecula.

After departing from the mall complex, as I approached Winco on Winchester Road, the scene was amazing.  The parking lot was full, with maybe a few spaces on the far end of the lot next to Margarita Road.  I walk with a cane, so I drove around hoping to find a space within a reasonable walking distance.  It took about twenty minutes before I got lucky.

Once inside, the first thing I noticed was that the self-checkout line (15 items or less) was blocked off and closed.  Every single regular checkout line was open, and the lines were massive.  Someone said to me, “You think this is bad, wait until President Trump announces a national state of emergency at noon.”

I grabbed a couple tomatoes, oranges, limes, lemons, bananas, and an onion.  The less expensive oranges were sold out, as was a couple of the brands of lemons.  At the deli, the deli items were fine, so I grabbed some turkey, sliced chicken breast, and ham from the deli counter, and I found my provolone cheese (American cheese was almost sold out), and then decided to take a tour of the store.  Items like ramen noodles, toilet paper, water, and disinfectant supplies were either sold out, or nearly sold out.

As I have been writing all along, I believe this is an overreaction.  Don’t get me wrong, use common sense.  Be clean, wash your hands, and so forth.  I get it.  Nobody wants to get sick.  But this is not the end of the world.  It’s a virus that is less virulent than the common cold.  Be concerned, be reasonable, but this hysterical panic is ridiculous.

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