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Local businesses see high demand for face masks in light of coronavirus news

Posted at 6:32 PM, Jan 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-28 20:16:16-05

MILWAUKEE — As coronavirus spreads so does the demand for products like face masks. This all comes during the heart of an already active flu season.

Businesses in southeast Wisconsin are feeling the impact.

Hayat Pharmacy at 27th and Edgerton does not normally carry masks but so many people have been calling about them they have tried to get their hands on some.

"I have three nationwide vendors that I’ve reached out to. Everybody has a zero on hand of every style, design, cut, color, you name it," said pharmacist Manal Dacha.

A spokesperson for Walgreens said they have experienced greater demand for products like face masks and hand sanitizer since coronavirus cases were confirmed in the United States. The company says they are working with partners to ensure they have a sufficient supply.

As a precaution, Cathy Thompson wore a face mask as she flew into Milwaukee Tuesday. She also had to stop in Chicago where a case of coronavirus has been confirmed.

"My husband has COPD really bad and if he caught any kind of cold or respiratory problem he would die. I can't take that risk of taking that home to him," said Thompson.

DASH Medical Gloves in Franklin sells masks.

It's not a big part of their business, but since coronavirus began dominating headlines they have seen more demand for the item.

"I'd say at least 20 times higher in the first day," said Bob Sullivan, President and CEO of DASH Medical Gloves.

They believe the spike came last Thursday after someone shared their website on a Chinese forum.

Sullivan says sales are all from individual people sending the masks to China. Typically their clients are businesses.

"It's unusual to see that and it's not like we have a huge inventory of masks. We have to be a little careful of not being back-ordered to our normal customers," said Sullivan.

Health experts say face masks are really designed to keep an infected person from spreading illnesses.

Coronavirus can spread when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

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