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The Associated Press / Costco customers roll filled groceries to their cars Saturday in San Leandro, California, leaving empty shelves and needy customers.

This editorial was updated at 5:35 p.m. on Monday, March 16, 2020.

While one group of Tennesseans was hoarding groceries over the weekend, another was carrying on as if the nation wasn't in the midst of a pandemic.

Both were infuriating since it meant the grocery hoarders and the hearty partiers hadn't grasped that the nation wasn't suffering a zombie apocalypse but shouldn't be practicing business as usual either.

The worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus is serious business, and potentially deadly, but only brings mild or moderate symptoms to most who contract it. Yet, those who get it who are elderly or have compromised immune systems have a much more difficult time fighting it off.

That is why schools, churches, sporting events and attractions across the country have been shut down. If the transmission of the virus can be slowed by fewer people being together in larger groups, it will have a much more difficult time spreading from person to person.

Experts at this point can't tell us how long "flattening the curve" will take, but many places have closed down through the end of this month. That may be enough time for the worst of the virus to run its course, or it may not.

Places that must stay open to serve the public are taking extra precautions to make sure their customers are safe, and one of those is grocery stores. Unfortunately, a panicked public fled to stores over the weekend, hoarding bread, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, cleaning solutions and other items as if they were going to have to stay in the house for the rest of 2020.

A sign on the toilet tissue aisle at a local supermarket apologized to its customers that it was going to have to limit its per-day purchases on the items, but the shelves already were bare.

Indeed, Chattanooga became the face of the Ugly American in this crisis on Saturday when a Hixson man was identified in The New York Times as having bought hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes and face masks in bulk over the past weeks and sold them at a profit on his Amazon site store until March 5.

Meanwhile, video at a packed Nashville nightspot showed hundreds of people dancing and enjoying close conversation Saturday as if the first warning about coronavirus had never been made.

Since then, the Centers for Disease Control has recommended that any gatherings of 10 or more in the next two months be canceled or postponed. It's up to individual states and cities whether that is mandated.

The coronavirus outbreak doesn't have to bring out the worst — or the stupid — in us. If we remain calm, keep to ourselves and do only what public shopping we must, we can all get through this.

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