Coronavirus panic buying hurts low-income communities.
Catherine De La Rosa with her two sons.
Catherine De La Rosa, 34, is worried about buying formula for her 9-month-old son. She quit her job at a daycare center in order to finish her student teaching training with the goal of achieving her dream of becoming a teacher.
"My biggest concern is making sure that I have all the essentials that my kids need," stated De La Rosa.
She is a mother of two young boys and she depends on WIC, which requires families to pick food that is labeled as WIC at the supermarket.
"If you see a WIC label on the supermarket and you have other options, do not take it because you are taking food away from people who depend on WIC, and they will not have other food options," stated De La Rosa.
After weeks of waiting for her SNAP and WIC benefits to be reinstated, she went shopping for the things that she needed. To her surprise, stores ran out of baby wipes because toilet paper was gone, so people went to the next best thing. She waited a whole week until they would restock again.
De La Rosa used all her SNAP and WIC money at once and stocked up on baby food, wipes, and diapers out of fear of not having food for two weeks after the state quarantine started.
De La Rosa stocked up on baby food and formula after receiving her SNAP and WIC funds.
The global spread of the coronavirus has reached New York City with a total of 329,405 cases and 25,720 deaths, as of May, 7. The Governor, Andrew Cuomo, has put New York State on PAUSE, on Sunday, March 22. Requesting numerous closure of non-essential businesses, encouraging retired doctors to return to work and asking for federal help in gathering more PPE products for healthcare providers.
Supermarkets have run out of many products, including toilet paper, which has been the most in demand product on the market. Small local businesses such as restaurants, barbershops, hair and nail salons, and daycares cannot be done remotely, and most low-income jobs do not offer paid sick days.
According to the United States Census in 2018, 27.5 million Americans did not have health insurance, and for many, stocking up their pantry is almost impossible. Roughly, 4 in 10 Americans cannot afford a $400 emergency and 17% of U.S. adults cannot fully pay all of their bills every month, on the report of the 2019 Federal Reserve study.
Not having the proper resources to plan and protect against the COVID-19 will have a considerable impact on millions of New Yorkers who face a greater danger of contracting and, in this way, spreading the virus.
As states and healthcare divisions continue to address the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., they are closing down schools and implementing quarantines, actions that frequently have outsized, if unintended, downstream impacts on more unfortunate individuals.
Some low-income children depend on free and half-price school morning meals and snacks for their day-by-day nourishment. For instance, low-pay guardians can't generally manage the cost of child care when their young children are home all day. As schools across the country are shifting to virtual learning, many families who need access to high-speed internet may not be able to successfully finish the rest of the school year.
Empty shelf at Food Bazaar.
While others are concerned about things running out of food, Sandra, 24, a worker from Food Bazaar, who asked to only use her first name said, "I am grateful things are out of stock, and more orders will be coming in tonight because if that were not the case, I would not even have a job right now."
In the past few intense shopping weeks, Sandra has been working late-night shifts unboxing and restocking products back in their aisle.
“Shoppers wait at least 40 minutes to check out on a slow day,” said Sandra.
Long line at Food Bazaar.
Panic buying has now taken steps to do real harm. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. top health spokesperson has begged Americans to quit purchasing face covers to guarantee that medical workers have them. In contrast, Japan has said it will punish residents for reselling masks. Many tech companies have restricted new postings for health items that are being sold at a higher cost, with packs of hand sanitizer that typically sell for $10 springing up for $400.
The difficult decisions that are being made to flatten the curve not only slow the pace of contamination in humans, they buy us time. They give manufacturers the space to create what has to be made. There will probably be more truly sick individuals than we have assets to think about, implying that suppliers should settle on choices about whom to treat, and whom not to treat.
Dianis Lopez, 30, a Brooklyn resident, is a frequent shopper at Food Bazaar. She lives with her mother and three kids.
She said, "I want my family and I to be prepared because we do not know what is going to happen with this coronavirus, and l do not want to end up with no food at home."
As a single mother, she is the only person generating income in the household.
"All we can do is listen to our health experts, be patient, and fight this virus altogether, putting in our part," said Lopez.
According to the Food Bank for New York City, about 1.4 million New York City residents depend on emergency food programs every year.
Source: Source: NYC Department of Labor: NYC Unemployment Rate in 2020.
As reported by the Department of Labor, the unemployment rate in New York City has increased to 4.2% as of March 2020.
Transitioning to an online home lifestyle has been a challenge for De La Rosa and her family. Her mother is not working since her job closed down due to the coronavirus, and her father is retired, so most of the burden has fallen on her.
It has been a lot for her to juggle all at once with her online work requirements as a student teacher, taking care of a 9-month-old baby, helping her seven-year-old son with his online education, and making sure he is doing his extracurricular activities such as preparing via Zoom for his upcoming karate competition at the end of May.
"I have been managing all of my anxiety by listening to worship music and allowing my faith in God to keep me calm through all of this adversity,” stated De La Rosa.
I also love to crochet as a way to de-stress."
Stay safe and healthy!
The New York City Department of Education is making free meals available to all New Yorkers across the city. Many public school facilities are offering free breakfast and lunch, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m till 1:30 p.m. at any free meal location.
Note: If you’re sick and you think you’ve been exposed to the new coronavirus, call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested.
Call 911 if you have a medical emergency: notify the operator that you have or think you might have, COVID-19. If possible, put on a face mask before medical help arrives.