Some used to laugh at "preppers" or survivalists. But now that the COVID-19 pandemic is upon us, who's laughing now? As USA Today reports, preppers and survivalists are often also called "conspiracy theorists," but in this case, it turns out they were right. When the coronavirus hit, they didn't need to go out and panic-buy toilet paper or canned goods, because they were already set for months or even years to come. But unlike how they're depicted in shows like Doomsday Preppers, one Kentucky survivalist says most simply grew up in the country learning how to hunt, fish, grow and preserve their own food, and be prepared to feed their family even if they found themselves out of work. "We are normal people," he says. "Nothing separates us from anyone else, with the exception of we can look ahead." He says a prepper group he's in realized as soon as the virus news broke in late December that it was headed to the US.
In a piece earlier this month, the AP explained that those featured in Doomsday Preppers actually are awaiting an apocalyptic end-times scenario, while most survivalists are simply preparing for a scenario exactly like the one we're currently living through. "The vast majority of this is ‘beans and Band-Aids,’ not ‘bullets and bunkers,'" the founder of a prepper website says. "Right now, in this environment, everyone’s a prepper," the president of a Utah survivalism store tells USAT. Such stores sell everything from freeze-dried, dehydrated, or canned meals to water storage, and demand for such items has gone way up in light of the pandemic. Similarly, one prepper Facebook group has been getting 2,000 new member requests per week. But the survivalists interviewed for the stories say they're not gloating. Rather, they're trying to help those who are now coming to them asking for tips on how to get through, and even sharing some of their supplies. (Read more coronavirus stories.)