Coronavirus fears lead to worldwide face mask shortages

(Source: WVLT)
(Source: WVLT)(WVLT)
Published: Feb. 17, 2020 at 1:07 PM EST
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As the coronavirus continues to spread, so does the fear of many Americans.

Pharmacies and online retailers, worldwide, have begun running out of face masks,

Walgreen's and CVS stores across Knoxville have reported a shortage of face masks and gloves because of recent high demand.

In a new survey, the National Community Pharmacists Association said nearly 63 percent of U.S. pharmacists said they've had customers buy surgical masks as a precaution against coronavirus. Nearly 96 percent of U.S. pharmacists said the demand has led to shortages as retailers wait to restock shelves.

"We are working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for face masks," Amy Thibault, senior manager of communications at CVS Health said. "We will re-supply those stores [that are out of masks] as quickly as possible."

The mask shortage in China has lead many groups to attempt to buy supplies in the U.S. and send them overseas.

Wuhan University Alumni Association of Greater New York raised over $600,000 through a Gofundme campaign to send medical supplies to doctors and patients in the Wuhan area, including 40,000 masks bought from US manufacturers.

Chinese officials said 1,770 people have died from the coronavirus and nearly 70,000 people in China have been infected.

The Japanese Health Ministry announced that

on the cruise ship, bringing the total to 454.

Dr. Nancy Messonier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stressed that the CDC does not usually recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness.

"We are certainly not recommending them at this time for this novel virus," Messonier said.

William Shaffner, professor of preventative medicine at Vanderbilt University said the coronavirus spreads the way the flu does and the CDC does not recommend face masks as a way to avoid the flu either.

"A surgical mask might provide some protection, but it's going to be very modest," Schaffner said.

Experts said face masks were designed for different purposes and only certain types of masks will actually guard against infectious diseases.

To guard against infectious virus' medical officials said Americans should wash their hands frequently, avoid crowds if possible and disinfect everything they touch.

Copyright 2020 WVLT via USNews. All rights reserved.