WILLMAR — Not since Johnny Carson caused the Great Toilet Paper Scare of 1973 with a "Tonight Show" joke has there been a toilet paper shortage in the United States until now.

As coronavirus cases increase across the country, some shortages are occurring due to panic buying across the country of many household essentials like hand sanitizer, toilet paper and disinfecting wipes.

Toilet paper and hand sanitizers were in short supply Wednesday at some Willmar retailers. Toilet paper stock was still in low supply at major retailers Thursday morning in Willmar.

Other retailers were limiting purchase quantities.

Over 10 days, there have been reported shortages of hand sanitizer, toilet paper and water. Some Twin Cities restaurants are reporting people are stealing toilet paper to stock up at home, according to the Star Tribune of Minneapolis.

Experts are puzzled a bit by the latest run on toilet paper, especially since it provides no protection against COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus.

In fact, traditional toilet paper is not all that good. It's a bit unhygienic, tends to be chaffing, contains zero cleansing ingredients and is not all that effective at cleaning your behind.

If you run low on toilet paper, here are some alternatives:

  • Wet wipes
  • Washable fabric toilet paper or rags
  • Bidet
  • Hyge wipes

To keep your hands clean:

  • Frequent and thorough handwashing with soap for at least 20 seconds is the best method for reducing hand germs, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • The CDC recommends hand sanitizers that contain 60% to 95% alcohol in order to eradicate germs. Sanitizers also work best on clean hands.
  • One can also make their own hand sanitizer and recipes can be found on the internet. However, experts urge caution and say the best alternative is to washing properly with soap.

As a public service, the West Central Tribune has opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.