The coronavirus has not been kind to supplies of toilet paper. Along with the obvious items, such as hand sanitizer and other disinfectants, the rolls of tissue have been increasingly hard to find at local markets, as people stock up to hunker down during the global pandemic.
But please, for goodness' sake, don't panic if you run out.
That, at least, is the earnest request of the police department in Newport, Ore.
"It's hard to believe that we even have to post this. Do not call 9-1-1 just because you ran out of toilet paper," the department told residents in a reminder posted to Facebook last weekend. "You will survive without our assistance."
Store shelves may not be flush with the two-ply right now, exactly — but police warned that, whatever folks may think, they cannot assist with this particular need. Instead, they helpfully offered some alternatives gleaned from the annals of human history — improvised instruments such as dried corn cobs and pages torn from old magazines.
"Seamen used old rope and anchor lines soaked in salt water. Ancient Romans used a sea sponge on a stick, also soaked in salt water," they suggested. "We are a coastal town. We have an abundance of salt water available. Sea shells were also used."
For what it's worth, some consumers appear to be ahead of them.
Bidet makers have told multiple media outlets that they've seen sales of their bottom washers skyrocket in recent weeks. The Associated Press reports that others, such as one enterprising man in Southern California, have come up with novel ways to meet the demand — such as a street-corner toilet paper exchange.
Newport police ended their public service announcement with some soothing words.
"This too shall pass," they said. "Just don't call 9-1-1. We cannot bring you toilet paper."