Pharmacies experience medical mask shortages in wake of coronavirus worries

Published: Feb. 5, 2020 at 3:21 PM CST
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People around the world are reacting to the coronavirus virus by wearing masks to protect themselves, retailers tell us those concerns have created a shortage of procedural mask that many people are wearing.

At Kubat’s pharmacy, you can get a flu shot but right now you can’t get a mask to protect against the flu or the coronavirus.

“I went to all of our distributors just to look, everything’s wiped out gone doesn’t even show a date when it could possibly be back in so I have no idea when we can even expect them,” said Todd Davison with Kubat’s Pharmacy.

In some places, there are no masks at all in other locations the supply is limited. Experts tell us these masks offer some protection, but not a great deal of protection.

“What most of your viewers see which are very standard sort of surgical mask or what we call procedure masks have very low filtration capability they’re not very tight fitting so there’s a great opportunity to breathe around them,” said Rupp.

Dr. Rupp tells us the procedural masks are most useful in preventing someone who is infected from spreading the infection. Dr. Rupp also tells us the mask should be a warning for mask wearers not to infect themselves.

“One of the values of those masks that people might wear is that it does remind them that they shouldn’t be touching their nose their mouth their eyes because we think that that’s one of the major ways the coronavirus or the flu virus or any other type of repertory virus may be transmitted from one person to another,” said Rupp.

According to The Centers for Disease Control, the immediate health risk from the coronavirus here in the U.S. is low at this time. Here in Omaha, most people move around town mask free.

Dr. Rupp tells us medical personal taking care of patients use masks that are actually respirators they have a much tighter fit and much higher filtration capacity. Medical personnel actually have to be fitted for those masks.