COMMENTARY: Empty shelves send dangerous signal amid coronavirus crisis

Empty shelves send a dangerous signal to the public about how our society is coping with COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. This includes both physical shelves in stores and virtual shelves online.

That’s because we judge most situations we encounter with our senses. In this case, it’s with our eyes: if we see shortages of toilet paper, cleaning products and other daily essentials, it is a powerful indicator that something we rely on isn’t working.

What’s compounding the problem is how we are attempting to solve it. That’s by reassuring the public about the security of supply. We have heard endless explanations from politicians, manufacturers and retailers saying there’s plenty of supply and no need for us to be concerned.

The problem is that most of us already believe this. We don’t believe empty shelves are being created by supply-chain problems.

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