Amid growing fears of the coronavirus pandemic, many store shelves remain empty from Washington, D.C., to Texas, with viral images and videos of people fighting over toilet paper and bottled water, as #panicbuying and #coronapocalypse trend on Twitter.
But Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner has a sharp rebuke for anyone panic-buying and stocking up in case they're quarantined.
"The world is not coming to an end," Turner tweeted after midnight on Friday. "But if it is[,] all that bottle water and toilet paper you are buying will not get used."
Paul Marsden, a consumer psychologist at the University of the Arts London, explained that people tend to stock up to manage their emotional state in what seems like a state of chaos.
“It’s about ‘taking back control’ in a world where you feel out of control,” he told CNBC. “More generally, panic buying can be understood as playing to our three fundamental psychology needs.”
The mayor was addressing "false rumors on social media" Thursday night as he went on a tweetstorm saying the city is not shutting down after he declared a state of emergency.
Turner said to expect more than the already three confirmed cases but said that, aside from rescheduled or canceled events, business is running as usual.
"We are not closing businesses, or limiting the number of employees or telling people not to go to work," he said.
And as one of the largest megachurches in the nation – Joel Osteen's 52,000 member Lakewood Church – canceled in-person services, the mayor insisted he will be going to a worship service this weekend.
"On Sunday I am going to church," he said. "I am going to pray for our City and Country. And I am going to thank him for his many blessings."