CVS expecting 'temporary shortages' of hand sanitizer amid COVID-19 outbreak
LOS ANGELES - As fears over the novel coronavirus continued to grow in the United States and around the world, a national drugstore chain cautioned customers that shortages of hand sanitizing products could occur.
The increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the U.S., as well as the first reported death from the coronavirus on U.S. soil, had many worried people scrambling to purchase face masks, cleaning products and hand sanitizers in a bid to ward off the virus.
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A CVS spokesperson indicated that the chain is seeing increased demand for hand sanitizers.
"We are working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for these products," said Stephanie Cunha, public relations manager for CVS Health. "This demand may cause temporary shoratges of certain products at some store locations and we re-supply those stores as quickly as possible."
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Many businesses were sold out of face masks, while others were limiting how many a customer can buy. Amazon is policing its site, trying to make sure sellers don't gouge panicked buyers.
In the U.S., Walgreens, Home Depot, Lowe’s and True Value Hardware reported a sharp uptick in sales of masks over the past several weeks and say they are scrambling to get more from suppliers.
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Home Depot, the nation’s largest home improvement chain, has limited sales of N95 respirators to 10 per person. They have a close facial fit and more filtration material than general surgical masks, enabling them to keep out at least 95% of particles.
Still, the CDC doesn't recommend that people wear masks to protect themselves from the virus. The CDC says people infected — or those showing symptoms such as fever and shortness of breath — should wear masks to avoid spreading it to others. Health care workers also need masks, the agency says.
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Though global stock markets took a significant hit over fears of the economic impact of COVID-19's spread, some companies who make and sell cleaning products were seeing near all-time highs.
Clorox approched a record after its stock jumped Monday amid expectations that homes and hospitals will use more of its disinfecting wipes.
In Hawaii, there were reports of long lines of people waiting to purchase toilet paper at a Costco after the state's health department urged residents to prepare an emergency supply kit.
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The viral outbreak that began in China has infected more than 85,000 people globally and claimed more than 2,900 lives.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.