Coronavirus: Fights Break out Across US Stores Between Customers Amid Intensifying Panic

Multiple dangerous incidents at U.S. big box stores highlight the intensifying panic among residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Police in Hiram, Georgia said a man was stabbed with a wine bottle at a Sam's Club store there on Thursday. Meanwhile, video of a brawl allegedly filmed at a Brooklyn, New York Coscto went viral Thursday.

In the Hiram incident, police and Paulding County Sheriff's deputies responded to a call at the Sam's Club there, where they found two men with injuries and a crowd around the scene, reports WSB-TV. Police said a man using a motorized scooter and another family were trying to get at the same spot. The man using the cart hit the family's, and a woman hit the man.

At that point, police said both parties grabbed nearby wine bottles and began hitting each other. Bottles were smashed and one Twitter user claimed a man was stabbed during the incident. Charges are still pending, and the names of those involved were not released. Police said the fight was not over supplies connected to coronavirus, reports WSB-TV.

Hundreds of miles away in New York, tensions at a Costco reached a boiling point while customers were waiting in long lines on Thursday. Video appears to show a confrontation between customers breaking out while employees tried to calm the situation, reports WABC.

"As human beings, we've got to come together at a time like this," one employee is heard saying in the clip. "So I need you guys to calm down."

"Don't let her touch me with that cart again," a woman is heard demanding to an employee.

On the other side of the country, one Fairfield, California Costco customer sent a video to NBC Bay Area showing fights breaking out over shopping cards. One employee said a fight broke out after one man took another shopper's toilet paper right out of a cart.

A video showing a fight between customers at a store in Australia also went viral. A group of women began fighting over toilet paper in the clip, which now has more than 5 million views.

Americans have been stocking up on toilet paper ever since the coronavirus outbreak began spreading quickly. Having toilet paper will not keep you from contracting the virus, but that is not stopping consumers from completely wiping out stores' stock of toilet paper.

"[The novel coronavirus] is engendering a sort of survivalist psychology, where we must live as much as possible at home and thus must 'stock up' on essentials, and that certainly includes toilet paper," Frank Farley, professor at Temple University and former president of the American Psychological Association, told CNN earlier this week. "After all, if we run out of [toilet paper], what do we replace it with?"

Baruch Fischhoff, a psychologist and professor in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy and the Institute for Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University, told CNN one reason for the rush on toilet paper is it gives some people a sense of control.

"Depending on how people estimate the chances of needing the toilet paper, the hassle might be worth it," he explained. "If it gave them the feeling that they had done everything that they could, it might free them to think about other things than coronavirus."

Meanwhile, Georgia-Pacific, which makes AngelSoft and Quilted Northern brands, told Forbes they began increasing production of toilet paper last week.


Photo credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images