By Kevin Edwards
BC Staff Writer
The coronavirus pandemic has had effects on the economic well being of the United States as well as the health of its citizens.
For Bolivar County residents, the effects are becoming noticeable.
Local businesses are changing hours and means of service in hopes of preventing person-to-person contact as much as possible.
Judson Thigpen, executive director of the Cleveland-Bolivar County Chamber of Commerce, expects support to be coming soon.
“There will be more things coming probably from the federal government and the state government in the days ahead to help with individuals and small businesses,” Thigpen said. “I think we’re just a couple of weeks into this and it’s an unknown. I think the general idea right now is to try to keep everybody in, to kind of flatten the curve and the increase in cases.”
The chamber has closed its facility to visitors for the time in order to do its part to flatten the curve.
Thigpen said local businesses are doing the smart thing in following guidelines.
“I think it’s the same as a lot of places,” Thigpen said. “Stores are being very careful to follow some of the recommendations from the CDC and are reducing their hours or some restaurants are not having dine-in customers anymore. Hopefully this is going to be a short-term thing, but nobody knows how long it’s going to be. The uncertainty and the unknown of things are most troubling.”
One point of concern nationally has been the panic buying of items like toilet paper and hand sanitizer in the wake of the crisis.
Cleveland residents have seen this first-hand as local groceries have had shelves emptied not only of toiletries but now items like bread and water.
With stores now introducing restrictions on the number of items you can purchase, Thigpen asks customers to purchase with moderation in mind.
“If everybody uses caution without being overwhelming to the supplies, I think the stores can keep up with the demand if there’s not a run on certain things like the toilet paper and the hand sanitizer and all those kind of things,” Thigpen said. “I think people would be conscious of the fact that supply can keep up with the demand if it’s done in moderation.
“I’m not saying not to go get what you need but realize there are other people that need it too. I think the bottom line is that if everybody would just purchase in moderation and just get what they need for the short-term then the supply can get caught back up.”
Thigpen pointed to how businesses around the country are working together to contribute to supplies for the common good, whether it be distilleries shifting from whiskey production to alcohol for hand sanitizer or factories building respirators.
“People across the country are trying to kick in and trying to help with that supply chain and trying to meet the demand better.”
There may not be an end date in sight for the current crisis but Thigpen said Bolivar County seems to be meeting the charge of doing their part in flattening the curve.
“I’m not going to say it’s going to be over in 14 days by any stretch of the imagination,” Thigpen said. “I think people are generally doing what they need to be doing. They’re staying in. They’re doing what’s suggested but at the same time I don’t think anybody needs a hundred rolls of toilet paper for two weeks.”