The High Costs of COVID-19 and King Cobra Venom

They say the first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.

So here goes: Hi, my name is Lucinda. And I’m a disaster-holic.

Tsunamis. Zika. Hurricanes. H1N1. Tornadoes. And now the coronavirus. I’ve got a lot of sick monkeys on my back.

Just to be clear: I don’t welcome disasters. I certainly don’t seek them out. I don’t go into dark alleys seeking a cyclone ‘fix’ or a bump of Ebola.

But I worry. I listen to the news … which makes me worry more … which leads to panic, provisioning and prepping.

And I gotta tell you, this coronavirus is a proving to be a real trigger. Itchy palms, elevated heart rate, an irrational urge to head to Costco and fill my cart with nonperishables.

So far, I’ve resisted. I’ve been taking deep breaths, even without the N95 respirator mask I’m jonesing for.

I’ve been sitting on my hands (so I won’t touch my face) and avoiding the clutch of stocking up and shutting down.

But as the numbers climbed, I found myself going down that slippery slope and succumbing to the siren call of Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Here’s what I haven’t been able to find: Purell. Hand sanitizers, one of the only recommended COVID-19 safeguards, is harder to find than a flu shot needle in a haystack.

Trust me, I’ve looked. And there is not a single bottle to be found. Nada. Not the jumbo pump dispensers that elementary school teachers put on their annual parent wish lists. Not the handy-dandy 3-ounce versions permitted by TSA agents at airport perimeters. Just empty shelves and rampant germs.

I’ve got plenty of Lysol and Clorox wipes. An abundance of toilet paper. Canned goods aplenty. Even a box of sterile gloves (don’t ask).

But the heart wants what the heart wants.

So, I hit up Amazon to see if I could procure Purell online. Seems I can — if I mortgage my home, sell my car, my blood and the Beanie Babies I’ve been holding on to since the ‘90s.

Yes, it seems that pandemic price-gouging is a thing. Take a deep breath. Or a swig of your favorite antiseptic beverage:

· A case of 12 8-ounce Purell hand sanitizers goes for $329.

· A single 8-ounce Purell will cost you $49.95

· A four-pack 1,200 milliliter refill Purell is selling for $519!

· A lowly 8-ounce Purell spray is a penny-shy of $40.

Buyer beware: Those are prices I found this week. I cannot guarantee they won’t go up, down or sell out to the high rollers. Supply and demand, baby. There’s nothing free about a free market economy.

Depending on how long this virus hangs around, Purell may well on its way to joining the list of the world’s most expensive liquids. A ranking that includes Chanel No 5 ($23,300/gallon), King Cobra venom ($135,700/gallon) and horseshoe crab blood ($53,250/gallon).

In that lofty company, $800-a-gallon hand sanitizer is still a relative bargain. But I think I’ll take my chances. Doing the math sobered me up. Time to calm down, count to 10, find a 12-step program — and go rescue some anemic crabs!



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Lucinda Trew

Writer who believes in the power of language to change minds, change moods and change the world.