TYLER, Texas (KETK) – With fears heightening over the potential of a coronavirus pandemic in the United States, medical-grade face masks are flying off the shelves across the country, even here in East Texas.
Pharmacies across the U.S. are experiencing a shortage, from simple paper masks to specialty ones.
With 10 cases of the Coronavirus confirmed in Texas, the shortage has reached here to East Texas. However, it’s not just people purchasing them that’s causing the shortage.
“People kind of tend to panic and want to stock up, so that along with the fact that a lot of them are made in China and a lot of them are being allocated to China, it’s been a shortage for at least a month now,” said Sonny Krezdorn, pharmacist and owner of Rose City Pharmacy in Tyler.
Pharmacy locations throughout East Texas told KETK News that people are calling everyday and asking to be contacted as soon as masks come in, which take a few months.
Krezdorn says people may be misunderstanding what some of these masks are capable of.
“They’re not made to really protect you from particles coming in, they’re to contain those particles from being spread out,” said Krezdorn.
Meaning most are manufactured to keep germs in, not keep them out, but that fact doesn’t seem to be slowing concerned shoppers from purchasing them. Health officials say people should leave the masks for those fighting the flu and other similar viruses to stop the spread. Especially since the flu season is still in full swing.
Right now, you can walk into any pharmacy in East Texas and there will be an empty spot where you would normally see boxes of masks, but not to worry, Krezdorn says there are more efficient ways to stay healthy. Dr. Krezdorn suggests washing your hands often and staying home from work or school when you are sick.
“If you do cough, sneeze, cover your mouth, my favorite is not to actually use your hands, it’s the doctor cover, you know, you use your elbow to get that and it gets on the inside of your sleeve, you’re less likely to actually spread that onto surfaces and share that with everybody,” said Krezdorn.