US stores start running low on masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and more amid growing fears of coronavirus

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US stores start running low on masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and more amid growing fears of coronavirus

Kroger
  • US consumers appear to be stocking up on food and medical supplies.
  • US sales of hand sanitizer soared 428% in the week ending January 25, compared to the same period last year, according to Nielsen data.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

US stores are starting to run low on some goods as the threat of coronavirus grows.

We've seen this pattern play out in China and Italy in recent weeks, as people rushed to stock up on essentials in response to surges in reported cases of the novel virus.

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Here's what people are seeing at stores across the US.

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Fears over the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease called COVID-19, have led to massive spikes in sales of certain goods.

Fears over the coronavirus, which causes a respiratory disease called COVID-19, have led to massive spikes in sales of certain goods.

These photos are from yesterday and the day before. Respirators and cheaper water = empty shelves. Northern California. pic.twitter.com/2LpfMON3VL

— TrueBlue (@TrueBlueAmeric3) February 27, 2020

Face masks have seen the biggest increase in sales, prompting global shortages.

Face masks have seen the biggest increase in sales, prompting global shortages.

both mask sections at Home Depot looking empty. also the water section at target... #coronavirus #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/CV4Urjt5hl

— danthedecentralist (@decentralistdan) February 26, 2020
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Sales increases began appearing in January. US sales of medical masks soared 428% in the week ending January 25, compared to the same week a year ago, according to Nielsen data.

Sales increases began appearing in January. US sales of medical masks soared 428% in the week ending January 25, compared to the same week a year ago, according to Nielsen data.

Home Depot was out of masks & said due to current events we have a limited supply and this is high key kind of terrifying #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/B8LbtEx7fo

— Blue Moonlight 💙🌙 (@thebluemoon143) February 27, 2020

The surge in sales has resulted in complete outages of masks at stores across the US.

The surge in sales has resulted in complete outages of masks at stores across the US.

@JeffMacke⁩ ⁦@RampCapitalLLC⁩ ⁦@RudyHavenstein⁩ ⁦@StockCats⁩ ⁦@jposhaughnessy⁩ Respiratory masks all gone at my Home Depot. pic.twitter.com/QmUtgMJcyg

— Bryan Tollerene (@TllrnInvmntMgmt) February 28, 2020
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Many Home Depot stores have posted signs limiting customers to 10 masks per purchase.

Many Home Depot stores have posted signs limiting customers to 10 masks per  purchase.

No N-95 masks at Home Depot... thank goodness we’re in the good hands of the Trump administration 😅 #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/SpeG2ouiSh

— Chris H (@TheDude9737) February 27, 2020

While face masks are flying off shelves, no health organizations are recommending that healthy people wear surgical masks and N95 respirator masks.

While face masks are flying off shelves, no health organizations are recommending that healthy people wear surgical masks and N95 respirator masks.

No panic going on here....empty shelves of paint respirators at Home Depot... pic.twitter.com/h6kStHcUIq

— Dave T. (@Sandavi) February 28, 2020
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Health officials are instead encouraging people to avoid risk of infection by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Health officials are instead encouraging people to avoid risk of infection by washing their hands frequently and thoroughly.

Just went to be in home depot to grab a few things. Figured I'd see how they were on masks. We are 3 hours from any major city..... pic.twitter.com/2101dXYka4

— Endangered Sense (@EndangeredSense) February 27, 2020

Officials have also said that healthy people buying masks could worsen shortages and leave medical professionals without appropriate gear.

Officials have also said that healthy people buying masks could worsen shortages and leave medical professionals without appropriate gear.

I tried to buy masks at my CVS. Empty shelves, of course. An employee said it has been like this for a month. #Covid19usa pic.twitter.com/rEhDbVIPLM

— Shirley Leung (@leung) February 26, 2020
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As one person pointed out on Twitter, the shortages could also leave workers in other professions — such as construction — exposed to harmful substances.

As one person pointed out on Twitter, the shortages could also leave workers in other professions — such as construction — exposed to harmful substances.

The #coronavirusus panic is real in #rochmn - Home Depot says its shelves are raided of N45 masks as soon as they're stocked, leaving builders, construction workers, etc, w/o needed gear. pic.twitter.com/2TFXzPFoQf

— 𝐉𝐆 (@JenGangloff) February 27, 2020

In addition to medical masks, consumers are also stocking up on hand sanitizer, thermometers, oat milk, and toilet paper.

In addition to medical masks, consumers are also stocking up on hand sanitizer, thermometers, oat milk, and toilet paper.
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In the week ending January 25, thermometer sales rose 43% and oat milk sales rose 440%, compared to last year.

In the week ending January 25, thermometer sales rose 43% and oat milk sales rose 440%, compared to last year.

meanwhile in supply stores across central #Minnesota the supply of face masks are already depleted😳 I made several stops this morning and found nothing but empty shelves... #coronavirususa #coronavirusus #coronavirusminnesota pic.twitter.com/TybhPtF3Tm

— Mosiah Willis (@MosiahWillis) February 26, 2020

Cold and flu medicines are also running low in some areas, according to posts on social media.

Cold and flu medicines are also running low in some areas, according to posts on social media.

Continued.... Empty shelves where masks and cough/ flu medicines and thermometers in baby sections. Vaporub, you nsme it, gone. pic.twitter.com/VPBzr2Aq8Q

— S. (@vixengolden) February 28, 2020
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As retailers are hit with surges in sales of some products, they are simultaneously trying to manage supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

As retailers are hit with surges in sales of some products, they are simultaneously trying to manage supply chain disruptions caused by the coronavirus.

These disruptions include the closures of some factories and offices in areas hard hit by the virus.

These disruptions include the closures of some factories and offices in areas hard hit by the virus.

Hmmmm... Empty shelves of respirator masks. Yet, Trump says there's nothing to worry about? pic.twitter.com/VhPlpgKQlz

— ⸸⛧Jason⛧⸸ (@exchristian4326) February 28, 2020
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"Retailers, more than other industries, will experience widespread impact on supply chains," said Shanton Wilcox, US manufacturing lead at PA Consulting.

"Retailers, more than other industries, will experience widespread impact on supply chains," said Shanton Wilcox, US manufacturing lead at PA Consulting.

I’m 0 for 4 on my mask hunt in Tallahassee today. CVS and Walgreens (shown here) have empty shelves where the masks should be— I’m told it’s looked like this for weeks. Story coming up at 5 on @WCTV pic.twitter.com/1KMiY3mVav

— Monica Casey (@MonicaCaseyNews) February 27, 2020

Some people may be stocking up on goods in anticipation of potential problems around supply chain disruptions.

Some people may be stocking up on goods in anticipation of potential problems around supply chain disruptions.

Mom: stock up on face masks & hand sanitizer now, once theres an outbreak, it’ll be impossible to get them. Me: relax.. Mom: I lived through communism, I remember empty shelves! Me: ok, I’ll get ‘em just for you but don’t worry, this is America, stuff doesn’t run out. America: pic.twitter.com/uM1kmwz1uu

— Przemysław Pałka (@PrzemekPalka) February 27, 2020
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Others may be stocking up in the event that coronavirus cases spread in their communities and they want to avoid going to public places where they could risk infection.

Others may be stocking up in the event that coronavirus cases spread in their communities and they want to avoid going to public places where they could risk infection.

Empty shelves at Target in St. Paul MN.. far away from any infected cases. #coronavirus #COVIDー19 pic.twitter.com/nbyfz6sg7C

— Kristen (@thebecks2018) February 27, 2020

But don't panic: so far, there are no signs of widespread food shortages in the US.

But don't panic: so far, there are no signs of widespread food shortages in the US.

Just came back from Target,
Masks and Hand sanitizer,low or empty. pic.twitter.com/U53NLZ7ITi

— N'JoWe (@CodeQuantumz) February 25, 2020
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Some people have reported seeing low inventory of canned foods, rice, and bottled water.

Some people have reported seeing low inventory of canned foods, rice, and bottled water.

@Target Empty shelves on a Sunday morning in Florissant MO. What’s the deal!? pic.twitter.com/94rD47hejF

— Becky Hill (@scottbec) February 23, 2020

But overall, grocery and convenience stores appear to be pretty well stocked for now.

But overall, grocery and convenience stores appear to be pretty well stocked for now.

#CoronaVirus I'm not even going to bother with Walgreens, Rite Aids, or Lowe's anymore, now looking for a med supply store. 😒 Empty shelves. No masks. Not sure why they aren't buying the gloves too? pic.twitter.com/CoNMZvhrLB

— Carla Marco (@CarlaMarco20) February 14, 2020
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That could change if the risk of coronavirus continues to grow in the US and people grow increasingly fearful.

That could change if the risk of coronavirus continues to grow in the US and people grow increasingly fearful.

This is the Respirator Mask Wall at local Home Depot yesterday. That is all #TrumpVirus pic.twitter.com/shIhZcfXQw

— Marion Douglas (@That_Bitch_16) February 28, 2020

"Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself. It's fear, rumors and stigma," World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

"Our greatest enemy right now is not the virus itself. It's fear, rumors and stigma," World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Friday.

Home Depot was cleared out. 3M must be super upset about how things are going. pic.twitter.com/oVHZDbK2pa

— j_st_n (@unquity) February 28, 2020
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"Most cases can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases," he said. "We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities."

"Most cases can still be traced to known contacts or clusters of cases," he said. "We do not see evidence as yet that the virus is spreading freely in communities."

You know how milk, eggs, and toilet paper fly off the shelves before a snowstorm? In the case of a global pandemic... the same thing happens with respiratory masks (online and brick and mortar... this was from Home Depot in Bethesda last night) #flumasks #coronavirus pic.twitter.com/A8VSDUFsKU

— Rob Runett (@BassBeatsTreble) February 28, 2020