It looks like the Rio Grande Valley hasn’t completely left its pandemic grocery store woes behind.

Several reports from around the Valley describe shoppers panic buying and purchasing toilet paper in bulk. Again.

The hoarding follows a week’s worth of record increases in COVID-19 cases for the Valley and a measure taken by the county designed to require the use of masks in businesses.

On Thursday, multiple big box grocery stores in McAllen and Edinburg still had an abundance of products that ran short early in the pandemic, staples like eggs and meat and milk.

There were noticeable gaps in the cleaning supplies aisle, however, especially on shelves designated for paper towels and toilet paper. Despite that, every store visited still had hundreds of rolls for sale.

Hidalgo County Judge Richard F. Cortez says he’s noticed the panic buying picking up again and that rumors of shortages and scarcity are largely unfounded.

“I talk to all the groceries and everywhere we’ve had hotspots, there’s never been a shortage of food or supplies. In fact, the consumption goes up because people are at home and they’re consuming more products, but there’s never a shortage of food or anything like that, so I don’t know why people are panicking and hoarding stuff again. I really can’t explain it,” he said.

In fact, Cortez said, buying goods like toilet paper and cleaning supplies in massive quantities can cause artificial shortages that hurt others in the community.

“The people that really have a need are unable to go buy the things that they really need. In other words, if you have toilet paper for two months and someone has no toilet paper, then you hurt that person that doesn’t have toilet paper, because you want to have it for two months and there’s no reason for you to store it for that long,” he said.

Due to the time of year, Cortez said it’s not a bad idea to have a reasonable stockpile of supplies on hand. He emphasizes that it should be reasonable.

“Hurricane season is here. We don’t know when a hurricane might hit, so be prepared for short-term interruption in electricity and food supply, but it’s a short term interruption, it’s not a long-term interruption,” he said.