Reporter asks Trump about closing grocery stores, food drive-thrus : ‘Just shut all of it down’

Having already endured one wave of panic buying, driven in large part by breathless media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, EWTN White House correspondent Owen Jensen may have just set the stage for another run on the stores.

As if the American people are not enduring enough hardship in the face of what has become an unprecedented national emergency, Jensen asked President Trump about shutting down everything — to include grocery stores and restaurants offering to-go services.

“So why even have a few businesses open? Why don’t they shut everything down? Groceries stores are open, fast food places — why even take a little chance? Just shut all of it down temporarily,” the global Catholic network reporter asked Sunday.

“We’ll answer that question later,” Trump responded. “All I can say is that right now, things are looking really good and opening up with a bang will be a great thing. And there’s nobody gonna be happier than me.”

The harm in the reporter’s question is that it adds to the possibility of panic, as some people read between the lines and run with assumptions.

Dubbed “30 Days To Slow The Spread,” the Trump administration implemented social distancing guidelines that run until the end of April, and most states are under stay-at-home orders, with non-essential businesses closed down.

Grocery stores have reduced their hours of operation to allow for more time to clean and restock shelves, and many are reserving the first hour of business on select days for elderly shoppers, who are most vulnerable to the Wuhan virus.

These stores have yet to recover from the first wave of panic-buying, as many shelves are still only partially stocked. A wave that occurred for no real reason other than fear, given that there isn’t a problem with the supply chain so much as there is with people buying product faster than the stores can restock shelves.

On March 15, President Trump urged Americans not to hoard food.

“You don’t have to buy so much,” the president said at a White House briefing. “Take it easy. Relax.”

“We have no shortages, other than people are buying anywhere from three to five times what they would normally buy,” he insisted. “There’s no need for anybody in the country to hoard essential food supplies.”

Trump explained that he had a conference call with executives from major retailers and grocery companies, including Walmart, Costco and Target.

“They have asked me to say, ‘Could you buy a little bit less please.’” he said. “I thought I would never hear that from a retailer.”

Social media users were quick to react to Jensen’s irresponsible inquiry, and readers are cautioned that the language wasn’t always nice.

Here’s a sampling of responses from Twitter:


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