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COVID-19: Why are people hoarding groceries?

13WMAZ spoke to a therapist for answers.

MACON, Ga. — If you've been grocery shopping this week, it's hard not to miss all the empty shelves. 

A lot of this has to do with people panic-buying due to coronavirus concerns. Nationwide, grocery stores are struggling to keep items on the shelves.

"Looking around, the shelves are pretty bare, even the frozen food section," Zutredia Gary Hill said. 

Toilet paper, bread, meat, and frozen foods are either gone or ravaged through in Macon grocery stores, causing several people to go store-to-store just get what they need for the week.

"I couldn't find ground beef. They were completely out here. They were out of chicken. They were out of pork chops, and a lot of the frozen vegetables are gone," Hill said.

This is her third stop this week to finish her grocery list.

"I came a couple days ago. I came here to get some Ragu sauce. They didn't have that, but they did have it today," she said. 

People like Hill are having to make more than one trip to the grocery store, because some decided to stock up early. So, why are people hoarding?

"It's not reasonable, It's emotional," Bruce Conn said.

He's a therapist at Coliseum Medical Centers.

"Our emotions are what motivates us. When you use the word 'pandemic,' people get motivated. It's not logical. There's no cases in middle Georgia, but people get excited internally, and that's what we respond to," Conn said. 

Conn says it's an easy and cheap response. 

"I can get toilet paper. It's not a high-risk investment in my safety with that, and it's an easy thing to do, and it makes me feel better," Conn said. 

He says bottom line -- don't hoard. 

"We're trying to control the uncontrollable, and we don't need to control it. The trucks are loaded. They're driving right now to your store," Conn said. "You're okay."

Shoppers like Hill agree with Conn's advice.

"Share -- if you're buying, please share. Share with the elderly who can't get out," Hill said. 

Many grocery stores will be restocked this week. However, it's just a matter of how long items stay on the shelves.

Several government officials, including President Donald Trump, are urging people not to hoard and to get just what they need.

Trump met with food industry executives on Sunday to discuss how to manage the crisis. In a news conference, he said grocery stores are working to restock.

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FACTS NOT FEAR | At 13WMAZ, we’re focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the coronavirus. To see our full coverage, visit our site section here: www.13wmaz.com/Coronavirus.