The Daily News on Thursday reported that earlier this week a woman tried to buy a half-full bottle of hand sanitizer that employees at a League City medical supply store had out for their own use. For $100. Let that sink in.
She didn’t succeed, and kudos to operations manager Nicole McClinton and her staff for not taking advantage of the woman’s temporary insanity just to make a buck. Or a hundred of them.
Have we lost our collective mind? When major crowd-drawing events are postponed or canceled, when schools are closed, when hospitals and nursing homes restrict visitors, that’s acting out of an overabundance of caution — and rightfully so.
But when you’re walking out of Walmart with 200 rolls of toilet paper or trying to buy a couple of ounces of Purell for a hundred bucks, that’s, well, let’s say, misguided at best.
People are listening to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other bona fide health professionals, which is good. But as is wont to happen, it’s selective listening in many cases.
Instead of hearing the CDC say, as it has, “Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol if soap and water are not available,” they hear, “Knock the old folks out of the way to nab the last bottle of hand sanitizer, even if it’s from the fancy cosmetics department and is really only 10 percent alcohol and 90 percent glitter.”
With Texas Gov. Greg Abbott officially declaring a state of emergency in Texas on Friday, we can’t stress enough that now especially is the time for what the Texas Medical Association called in a statement Friday “calm vigilance.”
“Texas physicians want to remind our patients to remain calm and practice smart public health precautions,” the statement reads.
Here’s what you need to remember to protect yourself, according to the TMA:
• Wash your hands thoroughly and often; cough into your elbow or a tissue, then throw it away; avoid touching your face; and by all means, stay home if you are sick.
• If you have a fever and cough, call your doctor’s office for instructions; do not automatically go to your doctor’s office or to an emergency department.
“If you’re mildly ill,” the statement continues, “you don’t need to go to the emergency room, or even your doctor’s office, because there is no treatment. So, if you’re reasonably healthy, you can take care of a mild illness yourself, as you would the flu.
“However, if you are in a risk group including older people or those with underlying health issues, call your doctor’s office for advice about what to do.
“And of course, anyone experiencing severe emergency symptoms like shortness of breath should seek medical care — but call first if at all possible.”
It’s important to note that nowhere in any decrees from the TMA, the CDC, the World Health Organization, the governor’s office or the White House does it say anything about toilet paper, bottled water or Vienna sausages (which inexplicably seem scarce in some local stores).
The TMA’s final word of advice?
“Be calm, be cautious, and take care of each other.”
We couldn’t agree more.
• Margaret Battistelli Gardner