Letter: Toilet paper fears based on irrelevant circumstances

Published 3:07 pm Thursday, April 2, 2020

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Working in retail, I see the rush for toilet paper every day. I get it — kinda. I stocked up to be sure, too. I have to admit I’m proud of the people of Albert Lea for honoring the one item limits; however, I’m starting to see the same faces every day buying more toilet paper. I’m not going to judge. I like to think they’re buying for people who can’t make it to the store. My concern is that senseless fear is causing unnecessary problems. Thus, I’m going to help make sense of it.

In 2003, Hong Kong was hit with SARS and two-thirds of the patients also had diarrhea. Strictly speaking, the diarrhea was a separate issue, but it’s believed that the diarrhea and the local plumbing situations helped spread the virus.

Moving ahead to 2019, Hong Kong is in turmoil over political issues with China. It’s already a stressful situation and suddenly they’re introduced to a new variant of SARS (COVID-19). At this point, it was a reasonable assumption on their part to stock up on toilet paper. One thing leads to another, including a publicized robbery of a truck carrying 600 rolls that may or may not have been for the toilet paper at all.

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I doubt anyone in the U.S. heard about that, but Australia did. Australians saw this behavior, freaked out and bought up all the toilet paper. Americans saw the videos from Australia, laughed, freaked out and bought up all the toilet paper.

Again, I’m really impressed that we’re keeping level heads, but our toilet paper fears are based in circumstances that are irrelevant in the here and now. Unless you’re using toilet paper in lieu of Kleenex, you’ll never use it in response to a respiratory infection.

Kris Strehlow

Albert Lea