While the coronavirus has Americans scrambling for canned goods, respirator masks, and especially toilet paper, one Catholic psychologist has encouraged people to take deep breaths and remain calm.
The World Health Organization labeled the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, a world-class pandemic this week. Since then, panic and anxiety have become common experiences.
Dr. Christina Lynch, a supervising psychologist for Denver’s St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, told CNA that fear of the pandemic is normal. But even in the global health crisis, she said, peace is not beyond our reach.
“Being frightened about something that we don’t understand is normal. I think the first thing we have to do is normalize our emotions and realize it’s okay. We all are uncertain. We don’t know what the future holds,” she said. “We fear the unknown. We want to be in control.”
As of March 13, the virus has infected over 140,000 people and claimed nearly 5,400 lives, the NY Times reported. U.S. President Donald Trump declared the crisis a national emergency Friday afternoon.
Coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said the situation will worsen, noting that the pandemic will last for several months. The option of a complete social shutdown is not off the table for Americans, he said.
Amid the anxiety, people have rushed to local supermarkets to stock up on medicine, hand sanitizer, and, curiously, toilet paper.
Videos have appeared online under the hashtags #toiletpaperpanic or #toiletpaperapocalypse, which show stores with empty shelves, and even fights breaking out over rolls of two-ply.
Lynch said that the hoarding of toilet paper conveys a panicked mob mentality taking root. But there are means to remain calm in the face of the upcoming storm.
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