The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, but for people who subscribe to the Waffle House Index, the disaster just got real. As WAFB9 reports, Waffle House is closing 365 of its locations nationwide.
The 24-hour breakfast chain announced the #WaffleHouseIndexRed through Facebook on March 24, along with a map showing the locations that have closed and the 1627 that remain open. Several states have issued stay-at-home orders to stop the spread of COVID-19, and many restaurants have suffered as they've been restricted to only takeout or delivery service.
Waffle House closures have long been used as a metric to gauge the severity of disasters. There are three stages to the Waffle House Index: green for operating normally, yellow for open with a limited menu, and red to indicate a closure. The chain is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and when a location closes, it means a serious threat is facing that community.
Typically, the Waffle House Index comes up during hurricanes and other weather events. FEMA has even been known to use it to determine how people are responding to a crisis. This marks the first time in the franchise's history that it's had to close hundreds of restaurants due to a pandemic.
While 365 Waffle Houses have closed, most locations will remain open for now, so it's still possible to soothe yourself with some smothered and covered hash browns. Just make sure you order them to go.