Travel Buddy: Julia Hart

I’ve been watching in horror at the empty grocery store aisles during the past couple of weeks, as our state — the so-called epicenter of COVID-19 — has gone from a very chill place to live to the nucleus of panicked over shoppers.

It’s as if no one has ever faced natural disaster before. Has no one ever set aside a two-week supply of nonperishable food, bottled water and other necessities of life – just in case of a snowstorm or a flood?

I’ve seen incidents where price gouging is happening, but only from hoarders who stocked up just to resell to the less fortunate. That action is despicable.

We’re extremely lucky at my house. I live with a hoarding queen whose hobby is collecting and cashing in on coupon discounts — year-round. We always have more paper products than I ever think we’re going to use — it’s just the two of us in the house after all.

We always have tons of toilet paper, three or four bottles of soap, extra boxes of facial tissue and an entire shelf dedicated to cleaning products.

Her shopping was done over a long period of time, not when the Governor declared all schools closed, all restaurants and bars closed to stop the spread of COVID-19.

All those people in the grocery stores probably didn’t take into consideration they were breaking all the social distancing rules while crowding around the toilet paper shelves, bumping each other to grab the last case of bottled water, which is unnecessary, because the water in their homes is already clean.

Don’t get me started on food stuffs. We got that too. “We’ve only to cook it,” says my couponing daughter.

Watching as people snatched shelves bare for a bottle of hand sanitizer, I remember all of the classes and press conferences I’ve attended over the years, where state’s Offices of Emergency Management representatives urged precaution instead of fearful reaction.

Stocking up to avoid running out of needed items is smart, but stripping shelves seems wrong. It worries me just how mean and peculiar people are when they hit their over shopping mode.

I hope we can be kinder going forward. Only stock your home shelves as needed. Help retailers keep food and other supplies available for all our neighbors. Please respect notices to restrict your purchases to one or two items per person.

Most importantly do practice good hygiene.

Trust we can all get through this hard time if we work together to help each other.

Julia Hart can be reached at 509-837-4500, ext. 123 or at

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