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How to prevent panicking about COVID-19

The city will conduct its daily coronavirus conference at 5 p.m.
Posted at 5:54 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 19:11:45-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Tex. — Coronavirus concerns have sparked panic in several cities, including here at home. Many viewers have told us about stores full of people, but with empty shelves.

Psychologists believe people panic out of fear of the unknown, and there's a lot of unknown when it comes to COVID-19.

Even though local leaders stress staying calm, some people can't help but to get stressed out.

At grocery stores across the Coastal Bend, parking lots are packed, lines are long, and despite limits on several items, shelves sit empty.

“This is worse than a hurricane, I haven't seen this when a storm's coming,” Amanda Moore said.

Moore is an online personal shopper, and in the last couple days, she's seen more -- and larger -- orders than usual. Moore believes people are stocking up out of fear.

“I feel like people are seeing other people and then it's just like a domino effect,” Moore said.

Psychology professionals believe people panic because they can’t control the emotions which come with what they’re thinking about.

“If you notice yourself thinking you need to get to the store right now where everything is going to be out, come up with a different thought; really looking at what you do have control over,” said Texas A&M Corpus Christi Psychology Professor Dr. Michelle Hollenbaugh.

According to Hollenbaugh, in times of crisis, people should try not focusing on things beyond their control.

“In a really scary time when there's a lot of stuff we don't know, really focus on what you can control,” said Hollenbaugh. “That can be really empowering and help manage anxiety as well.”

Despite public calls for calm from state and local leaders, many South Texans are faced with uncertainty. Much of that uncertainty spreads from social media, which is why Hollenbaugh said the best idea is to make sure to follow the facts.

“Really being aware of what you're looking at, how often you're looking at it, and whether it is something that's actually factual or not,” Hollenbaugh said.

With the weekend coming up, and several local events canceled, Hollenbaugh said it's a good idea to not be cooped up. Yes, avoid large crowds, but do something you enjoy to take your mind off things.