The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Residents weigh in on virus


March 18, 2020

Peter Stein

The paper products aisle at the Clovis Walmart on Prince Street has been overrun and cleaned out by paper hoarders, a common chain-reaction affect of the coronavirus pandemic at stores throughout the country in recent days.

A week ago, life was relatively normal.

Now, not so much.

Self-quarantining and social distancing have become things people are supposed to do. Bathroom tissue has become white gold. All thanks to the coronavirus.

Troubled times indeed.

Throughout the area, like the country and the world, people are experiencing shock and in some cases, panic - hence the run on toilet paper. But others, while dealing with the pandemic with caution, are taking a more measured approach. In other words, they're not freaking out.

"I think the media has just blown it up into this huge thing that you should be scared of. And I don't think you should," said Mikayla Mountjoy, a Portales resident and part-time worker at Portales' Do Drop Inn who turns 22 on Friday. "Take the necessary steps and precautions to prevent it, but don't be scared of it."

Mountjoy did put on a plastic glove to shake this reporter's hand, and did initially think this reporter was the health inspector. The Do Drop Inn does have sanitary wipe containers on each table, is regularly cleaning handles with bleach, and Mountjoy said call-in orders have increased. But those are all just signs of the very recent times.

Her point was that the reaction shouldn't become an overreaction.

"I think a lot of it's blown out of proportion," she said, "but I think that we could take more necessary steps in order to contain it all at once, instead of dragging it out and potentially having exposures here in eastern New Mexico."

What Mountjoy thinks should be an effort "to contain it all at once" could be painful for area businesses and residents.

"As much as I know that it would affect people who work hourly jobs," Mountjoy said, "I hope that they put a mandatory week-to-two-week quarantine in place where this town shuts down. And I know it's going to affect small businesses like us, but I think taking the necessary steps and precautions to stop it where it's at is what we should be trying to do."

Hailey Gore is also a Portales resident and is an Eastern New Mexico University senior studying criminal justice and psychology. She works at the campus student union and has taken on more hours there during what happens to be the school's spring break, which will be extended due to the virus.

While Gore is concerned, she isn't freaking out either.

"I think that the coronavirus is an issue, especially for individuals who might not be able to fight it off, like the elderly," Gore said. "But I also think there are other issues going in our country and our world that we also need to focus on."

Clovis resident Leslie McKay, 40, is the mother of an eighth- and fifth-grader, so she has understandable concerns about the virus, like anyone.

"I'm nervous," she said. "But I'm glad we're taking steps to keep the people safe that need to be kept safe, like the elderly."

Early Tuesday afternoon McKay was out doing some necessary shopping, and not the food, beverage or toilet paper kind. She was at Clovis-Carver Public Library trying to find education material for her children, who don't have school at least through April 5 due to the coronavirus precautions.

"I'm at the library getting books for them," McKay said. "We're trying to figure out online courses to help them not sit around and do nothing all day. They'd play video games all day."

Aside from forcing people to take safety precautions, forcing people to keep their children educated and motivated while out of school, COVID-19 has affected communities in other ways. As everyone has probably seen, many store shelves have become barren landscapes, especially paper product aisles, because people have run out to buy more than their shares, seemingly expecting some kind of toilet paper-related apocalypse.

"I think it's selfish," Gore said, "and I think it's a lack of human compassion. Because there could be other individuals who actually need that, especially baby formula. A lot of people can't get that now, people who actually need it. Take what you need, but don't be selfish."

"I think with the paper goods and the cleaning supplies being knocked off the shelves I don't think people realize that other people also have to wash their hands and wash their homes in order to contain the virus," Mountjoy said. "So the hoarding and the wiping the shelves completely clean, I think that's a little bit blown out of proportion. ... You have elderly people who are at higher risk and can't come out as easily, and you have people who have toddlers or babies and can't get out and get the baby wipes because we have people who decided to wipe those clean, too. ... I think the people who decided to hoard are going to be in for a rude awakening when all they have are toilet paper and paper towels to eat."

When the hoarding and the fears have subsided, when the virus has finally washed through, McKay wants our society to come out the other end better for the experience.

"I hope that it brings America together," she said. "I think we've been divided - politically especially - for a while now. And I think, like what happened after 9/11, we should pull together and fight as one."


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