Face masks selling out at some medical suppliers as coronavirus fears grow

Many drugstores are sold out of masks or have very little left in stock.
Many drugstores are sold out of masks or have very little left in stock.(WHSV)
Published: Mar. 3, 2020 at 12:48 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

Coronavirus fears are sparking a run on medical supplies, particularly face masks, and many businesses are now running low on the item.

As cases of the disease and fear continue to grow, so does the demand for face masks among the general public.

Discount Medical Supplies on Arthur Ashe Boulevard in Richmond says it doesn’t know when the store will get more of the masks in stock.

This is all happening while the US Surgeon General is telling people to stop buying the masks, as there ultimately may not be enough for medical professionals.

“Thank you for calling Discount Medical, we are currently out of stock of all face masks,” is part of the message that automatically plays if you try to call the store.

Owner Howard Coplan said it came out of necessity due to the high volume of calls. On the front door of the store, a sign reiterating the message also greets incoming customers.

“We’ve been out of over a month and a half. We were out right away. And we try to replenish it, but we couldn’t get it," Coplan said.

But it’s not just there that face masks are in short supply. Shortages are being reported throughout the country, with many people buying masks in bulk.

“The average American does not need to go out and buy a mask," said Vice President Mike Pence at a press conference over the weekend, reiterating messages from the Surgeon General and the CDC.

The government also says that paper masks may not be that effective in protecting against the novel coronavirus.

President Donald Trump met with a coronavirus task force on Monday and says the Center for Disease Control and pharmaceutical companies are taking part.

“We’re talking about a vaccine, maybe a cure if it’s possible, so we’ll see about that but we’re talking about a vaccine and they’re moving along very quickly," the president said at another event.

In the meantime, at stores like Discount Medical Supplies, Coplan has to fill the space where the masks would be. He currently has antibacterial wipes and hand sanitizer in its place.

“This is only a small, 1% of my business - maybe," he said, adding “I just can’t believe this great country can’t – in an emergency – supply masks.”