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Grocery Stores the Barometer of COVID-19

Grocery Stores the Barometer of COVID-19

2020 has been a drag and heart wrenching for many families. We have floated into the Maskers versus non-Maskers. The regional divisions were highly diverse. Northeast states were severely Covid-19 afflicted while many Midwest, Sun Belt, and Western states fared a much lighter load for the first half of 2020. The basic truth has willed out – we are all affected in one way or another. For those who tried to ignore the pandemic effects, they have failed. For those severely hit with Covid-19 pneumonia, many refuse to believe they ever had Covid-19, which was a hoax.

I believe the effects of Covid-19 could be seen in one segment of our community, our Grocery Stores. The Grocery Stores are considered a front-line workforce delivering food, life-supporting drugs, paper goods, and, not least of all, alcohol. We can map the pandemic through multiple stages of their customers. These stages represent, I believe, the populace’s mental acceptance or not of the pandemic reality.

The initial phase is exactly what the Trump Administration feared. Yes, a major panic run on toilet paper, napkins, tissues, and paper towels. Trump was right not to worry us with this until absolutely necessary. Outside Costcos, Harris Teeters, Lowe’s, etc., we saw the parade of trailer loads of paper goods heading home in pickup trucks, station wagons, and SUVs. Shoppers were taking home enough paper goods for a long pandemic, at least three-plus years. Many were hoping to cash in on a crushing shortage, thus selling their supply to neighbors and strangers at triple the price or as high as the market would bear. They endear themselves to those shoppers who missed the pandemic announcement and finding empty shelves of paper goods. No masks were seen, let alone finding them online.

The next phase became a creative effort in finding new toilet paper supplies as they were delivered to a Grocery Store far, far away. Social media finally worked for us versus convincing us anti-fact stories about Clorox killing Covid-19 when injected or shining UV lamps down our throats. We learned to scan FaceBook, Nextdoor, Twitter, etc., to find the rare stockpile of toilet paper. We know what those once mailbox choking catalogs were being used for. I remember scouring a CVS store and finding single-ply toilet paper so transparent it could be used as a windowpane replacement, a glorious feeling of relief. Masks break through during this phase. Fauci’s suggestions for social distancing, washing our hands, and finally, use a MASK!

The final phase is normalcy when supply finally surpassed pandemic hysteria. If not generously supplied, the paper aisle did have all types of paper goods, even napkins. The waterless hand washes started to make an appearance in the middle of the aisles. Amazon even advertised up to three suppliers. There was a recall of waterless hand wash with methanol included; methanol is good for burning but should not be used on skin. Grocery store workers are fully masked, and we could not identify the person who told us the Spam was in aisle 14. The oxymoron of six-foot distancing was created. Have you seen a grocery store aisle? Try and pass anyone who is parked in the middle of the aisle looking for the lime Jell-O.

I know I am looking forward to shopping and actually being able to see what I am buying through my normally fogged glasses. Just imagine the joy you will experience getting home and see you bought that bottle of Vienna sausages instead of a jar of pickled pig’s feet!

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Stan Washington, Contributing Writer
Stan Washington is a contributing writer for Cape Fear Voices.

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