As Mississippi residents prepared for the impact of COVID-19, some began hoarding grocery and medical items, leaving store shelves empty and some residents without essential supplies in small towns.
In Webster County, Mississippi, 12 COVID-19 infections have been reported and one death as of April 5, according to the latest information from the state health department.
In Eupora, Webster County’s largest city with a population of about 2,000, residents are coping despite the fact that many stores are missing necessary items. This has caused some businesses to place restrictions on purchases.
“People have been buying a large supply of toilet paper, paper towels, and if we have it, Lysol and um … Clorox wipes,” said Melissa Miller, assistant manager at Family Dollar. “It usually takes about two to three days when our trucks come in.”
Miller believes buying in bulk is not a good idea, as others could really need the items, but can’t get them. She said the store is having difficulty keeping items in stock, but it is trying to replenish quickly.
“We have to clean the registers, things that we touch constantly, door handles on the coolers, baskets, and hand baskets every hour,” she said. “They make sure we have hand sanitizer for us to use as much as possible. If we [the workers] need the gloves or masks, when we do get them in, we are allowed. They [Family Dollar] do take care of us in that way.”
Miller said employees are doing all they can to prevent the spread of the virus and help people get the items they need.
“I would advise people to buy what you need – a week’s supply,” she said. “Try to get out of the house as less as possible. But if you do the week supply thing, our …us stores have a better chance of keeping stuff in stock when you do need it.”
Miller said she has been on edge because she has a newborn at home.
“I just make sure I take extra precautions,” she said, “… but I think that what all of us are really doing is taking extra precautions, so we don’t bring anything back home to our children.”
Eupora resident Susan Stuckey, manager of a local tax service, said it’s important for people to take precautions and take the virus seriously.
“It is more contagious, more deadly, and it has a greater potential to overwhelm our health care systems,” she said. “My main concern is for the safety of the ones that get it.”
The local bank is also taking safety precautions, such as social distancing, to limit contact. Bank manager Sony Collier said CB&S Bank is now open at the drive through full time and by lobby appointment only.
“We have also started sanitizing the outside ATM and drive-up chute,” she said. “We have taken these precautions as preventive measures, not only for ourselves, but for our customers as well.”
Collier said she doesn’t believe in “panic buying.”
“When people panic buy, it only causes more panic and chaos and fear,” she said. “Panic and chaos can lead to an economic decline, which in turn, can lead to an economic depression.
“On the other hand, I do believe in being prepared for what might come (a quarantine of 14-30 days). I just do not believe in the panic that the news media and social media create it to be.”
Collier said it’s alarming that some could be be carriers and not know it.
“People are unaware of who all is actually carrying the virus, because some people never show any symptoms but can yet be carriers,” she said. “We have limited our outings to town for things, like groceries and such, and we only gather in small groups of four or five. We also wash our hands and sanitize our surroundings more frequently.”
She said it’s important to stay positive.
“My advice is to have faith that all things will work out, remain calm and not panic, and take some extra measures to protect yourself and the ones you love,” she said.