Ruben Cantu

Ruben Cantu

It’s said that disasters bring out the best and the worst in us, and this coronavirus pandemic is proving exactly that.

While there is no doubt that this is a real emergency, one that has led federal, state and local officials to take a host of preventive measures such as banning large gatherings, encourage people to practice frequent handwashing and see a physician as soon as the first symptoms appear, the reality is that many are being irrational.

Purchasing massive quantities of toilet paper or hand sanitizer is not going to keep any infectious disease at bay.

Yes, our lives are upside down with all the closures and restrictions, kids staying at home and popular eateries shutting down for dining in, even churches are changing the way they cater spiritual services to the members of our community.

But life goes on, this little corner of the world we call home continues to exist, our work schedules may be different, we may not go shopping or go see the ultimate blockbuster of the year at the movie theaters, but that is not the end of the world, it is just a little – or maybe a big – bump on the road.

Maybe it’s because my generation grew up on cloth diapers and glass bottles, but I don’t feel the urging need to go out shopping for toilet paper. My focus right now is in trying to adjust to our daily activities within the new norms we are seeing in this country.

As of press time, the U.S.-Canada border was in the process of being shut down for non-essential travelers. President Donald Trump announced Wednesday afternoon the U.S.-Mexico border it’s not shutting down, but since we live in a border town, we should all prepare for whatever may be coming.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for shutting down the border nor for keeping it open, all I’m saying is that we need to be prepared. If you get your diabetes medications in Acuña, if you see your eye doctor on the other side of the border, maybe now it’s the time to prepare.

Tuesday night, two San Antonio networks put out news reports stating a patient had tested positive for coronavirus in Del Rio. The information turned out to be inaccurate, and the news outlets had to issue retractions on their stories.

The best way to prevent these stories from creating collective panic – and our local officials have done a great job on this – is to keep the community informed. Keep the community informed on how many individuals have been tested, how many have been cleared and how many are pending, and give everyone a detailed explanation, step-by-step, on what to do if you think your health may be compromised.

I am glad there has been no positives in this community, but the way I see it, the way this flu-like respiratory disease is spreading out in this country, state and worldwide, it is inevitable that members of the community will be getting ill at some point. Now how bad will it be? Nobody knows. All we can do is try to stay healthy, and if you suspect you’re getting it, please, by all means, try and do your best to avoid passing it on.

This column is not intended to give out detailed information in how to react to the coronavirus disease. There are plenty of resources local, state and federal officials are putting out there telling us to see a doctor, call a hotline and isolate yourself.

The purpose of this column is to try to create awareness that acting irrationally is not going to help.

Having seen hundreds, probably thousands of reports of people stockpiling hand sanitizer and toilet paper, leaving empty shelves in supermarkets and convenience stores, I feel relieved when I go to the store and see that the supply of Funyuns, yes, those popular onion rings, has not been affected by the shopping craze.

Rubén Cantú has been a journalist since 1995.

He is the managing editor of the Del Rio News-Herald.

Contact him at

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(1) comment


Good advice.

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