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

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

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo: dignified.ca)
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

(Delta Police Department photo)
Scam-savvy North Delta couple help would-be victims avoid Bitcoin fraud

Mike’s Convenience Store owners have stopped several folks from being scammed at their Bitcoin ATM

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
Judge hears Langley development case that could end in mayor, councillors booted out of council

The conflict of interest case was launched by local voters a year ago

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland listens to a question from a reporter on the phone during a news conference in Ottawa, Monday, Nov. 30, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Spending too little worse than spending too much, Freeland says as Canada’s deficit tops $381B

‘The risk of providing too little support now outweighs that of providing too much’

Most Read