WOODWAY, Texas. A second coronavirus death has been confirmed in King County, Washington, according to a press release from Seattle and King County Public Health.
As cases of the virus spread across the globe, so does the rush for face masks.
At the CVS, Walgreens, and Walmart in Woodway; shelves were completely empty. Employees at all three stores say since the news of the coronavirus broke last month, face masks have been out of stock.
At one ACE hardware in Phoenix, Arizona, one store manager says his order for the masks have been postponed twice.
“I was supposed to receive them two weeks ago. Then they told me I’d be getting them in March. Now, we’re looking at April before those will come in,” says Wayne Brown.
The most common masks are N-95 respirators which are used to filter airborne particles.
“Pretty much every phone call is do you have N-95 and the response is you’re not going to find them unless you go on ebay,” says Bill Watkins, a Medical Supply Store Manager.
But as consumers head online, many run into fake masks and price gouging. For example, reports say a pack of 10 pack N-95 respirators are usually $18. On Amazon.com, the price were more than $200.
In statement Amazon says they discourage price gouging, saying:
“Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively. We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies,” an Amazon spokesman said in a statement, according to CNET.
However, health experts say only those who are caring for ill patients should wear masks.
“Wearing a mask every day is really not adviseable for your protection. For one thing they have to be fit tested. So for one thing just a simple mask across your face is not effective for anything,” says Kelly Crane of the Mclennan County Health District.
Experts say frequent hand washing and using hand sanitizer are some of the best ways to prevent the virus.