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America has plenty of toilet paper. Stocking empty store shelves is the hard part

Coronavirus may spur medical supply shortage
Health experts worry coronavirus could strain hospitals to breaking point 02:47

Coronavirus-related panic buying is making it difficult for retailers to keep toilet paper on store shelves, but unlike face masks and hand sanitizer, there's no actual shortage, according to the companies that make them.

Procter & Gamble said it is shipping record-high levels of Charmin and other brands. "Demand continues to outpace supply at the moment, but we are working diligently to get product to our retailers as fast as humanly possible," a spokesperson said in an email. "We continue to manufacture and ship Charmin to our retailers."

Rolling, rolling, rolling: A Procter & Gamble manufacturing facility. David Salpeter

Orders from some retailers have almost doubled, according to Georgia Pacific, the maker of Angel Soft and Quilted Northern. 

Georgia Pacific has an amply supply of toilet paper at its distribution plants, and is working to speed up shipments, but "you can just load and unload so fast," the company stated on Friday. 

Paper product makers are striving to keep up with the abrupt surge in demand, according to the American Forest & Paper Association. "Rest assured, tissue products continue to be produced and shipped – just as they are 52 weeks each year," Heidi Brock, the industry group's president and CEO said in a statement on Monday. 

That said, the fact that toilet paper is flying off shelves has led some folks to turn to alternatives, such as pieces of paper towel or wet wipes. That's a problem, however, as those options don't go down pipes so easily, a potential problem for home plumbing as well as municipal sewage systems. 

Families, businesses and governments across the country prepare for weeks of closure due to coronavirus 02:31

The scenario has sparked pleas to the public, including one case made by a local official in Michigan. 

"Our staff continues to work to serve the public in these extraordinary times. We all need to be mindful of how our actions impact our infrastructure and each other. So, please remember, wipes clog pipes," Macomb County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller, posted on social media.

A similar appeal came in the United Kingdom, where Brits are also hoarding toilet paper. Thames Water, the U.K.'s biggest water and wastewater service, urged customers not flush toilet paper substitutes.

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