It Begins: Hawaii Stores Empty Out On Coronavirus "Panic Buying"

Hawaii is urging residents to prepare for a potential breakout of Covid-19 amid new warnings earlier this week from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that the deadly virus quickly spreading across the world could cause a "significant disruption" to American life.

Although there are no confirmed virus cases in Hawaii (the state Health Department says 80 people are self-monitoring for the coronavirus in Hawaii after recent travel to China), the CDC's warning sparked a buying frenzy among residents this week as they emptied store shelves of food and supplies. 

Twitter handle @zoeywoeyzoey said, "Hawaii Sam's club is sold out of toilet paper hand sanitizer alcohol." 

KHON Honolulu said flatbed carts "were overflowing with boxes of canned goods, bottled water, toilet paper, and paper towels" at Costco's Iwilei location. 

"The essentials toilet paper, paper towels, bottles of water, soap, a lot of Clorox stuff, cleaning supplies… I figure with all the coronavirus scare and everything, it's better to be safe than sorry," said Honolulu resident Keane Zakimi.

Hawaii Foodbank told KHON that residents are panic buying non-perishable foods and medical masks. They said the same fear that is seen in Asia has now spread to Hawaii. 

"If there's no inventory at the store, then there's very little for stores to donate to the Foodbank and also at home if you're stocking up and hoarding for your family, the last thing you're thinking about is making a donation. It impacts us in a very great way," said Hawaii Foodbank President Ron Mizutani.

Honolulu Star-Advertiser said retailers across the state are experiencing shortages of 3M N95 masks. We noted last month that masks were selling out across the US. Prices of the masks have doubled or tripled since mid-January. 

It's only a matter of time before a virus case is confirmed in the state, and this could lead to an epic bust of its top industry: tourism, resulting in a recession for the island economy.