As the coronavirus crisis surges on, Americans are flocking to retail stores and depleting Amazon warehouses to stock up on toilet paper. Many observers have questioned why toilet paper has become such a hot commodity when it’s well known that COVID-19 does not impose digestive problems.
To stall, what is now being referred to as, “The Toilet Paper Epidemic of 2020,” public health officials are calling on Americans to limit their supply of toilet paper to a maximum of 48 rolls.
“Explosive diarrhea is not a symptom of the coronavirus,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and lead expert on President Trump’s coronavirus task force. “Everyone needs to calm down. Stockpiling toilet paper isn’t going to halt the spread of this virus.”
New reports suggest that, indeed, the virus is not encouraging people to consume more toilet paper, nor is it causing disruptions in the supply chain; but rather, the toilet paper scare was caused by a social media prank started by Russian bots. The hoax was traced back to a Tweet posted on March 9th under the Twitter handle, “@VladRox.” Attached with an apparently photoshopped image of an empty toilet paper aisle, the Tweet read, “Stockpiling has begun… I’m seeing people rolling carts with 96+ rolls of TP! #ToiletPaperRun”
Another Twitter account, using the handle “@QuitStalin,” posted a similar message the same evening. The Tweet read, “Just went to five Walmarts in the NYC area. No toilet paper! #UseYourHand.”
Some political pundits have expressed fear that the efficacy of the toilet paper prank could lead to some form of Russian interference in the upcoming U.S. presidential election.