Pandemic, Panic, and Prepping: A Brief Examination of Americans’ Response to COVID-19

To the average American, emergencies lead to panic, indecision, and overwhelming fear, all of which can seem illogical to those who understand how to respond to a crisis. Covid-19 is a case study of the problems with a lack of preparation and how the worries of a group can escalate to the point of worsening a pandemic.

In the early part of the pandemic, people panic bought paper supplies, resulting in a shortage of toilet paper and other products. The strange thing was that the disease did not really affect the digestive system, meaning there was no reason for the run on paper. Additionally, the U.S. does not depend on outside sources for paper products; with numerous mills and producers within the contiguous U.S. Panic buying also led to a shortage of hand soap, sanitizers, face masks, etc.

Panic Demand Disrupts Supply

The last thing you want to do in a crisis is strain supply. Unfortunately, the government did not have the oversight to limit quantities before the threat pushed many into panic mode.

When people are panicked and have little knowledge of crises, they automatically overbuy. A single individual overbuying is not a problem, but hundreds of thousands rushing to the stores is a massive undertaking. Companies cannot predict such an increase in demand, meaning that as people emptied store shelves, they needed to exhaust inventories and ramp up production to meet new, unrealistic expectations.

Unfortunately, while companies were trying to meet the panic demand, the illness continued to spread unchecked, forcing many producers to shut down or severely limit operations. The forced closures only worsened the supply shortage and encouraged further panic buying; the country entered an economic death spiral.

Preventing a Repeat of Recent History

The cycle of panic is dangerous, and while the pandemic is easing up, it is not gone. New variants and an unusual push against scientifically sound and safe vaccines increase the risks of future shutdowns and shortages.

Unfortunately, the best prevention of future occurrences is education and healthy preparation habits. Now that people understand that pandemics are still a threat to even the most powerful economies, it is vital to plan for the distinct possibility of repeat events. However, as any real prepper knows, survival is about healthy preparation tactics, not panic.

If you want to ensure your family has all the supplies they need during a future pandemic or disaster, start collecting and purchasing supplies now, when there are no runs on items like paper. There is no need to buy all the stock at your local grocer either; you can pick up a little here and there or order straight from producers.

Don’t Let Politics Get in the Way

Many of the pandemic problems were a result of panic buying and people ignoring experts. At some point, early on, the handling of the pandemic became politicized. All of a sudden, doctors and scientists were taking a backseat to politicians and pundits. The pandemic survival strategy became more focused on which way you leaned politically rather than based on evidence and scientific reason.

If another crisis should arise, or worse, the current pandemic returns with a vengeance, it is best to look to the health experts and not litigators or those looking to maintain their seats.

What do you think is the most important prepper takeaway from the past year? Leave a comment and keep the conversation going.