Kansas City-area pharmacies, grocery stores sell out of medical face masks

China Outbreak Masks
Posted at 9:07 PM, Feb 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-27 22:07:41-05

MISSION, Kan. — If you're trying to buy medical face masks with the hope of protecting yourself and your family from the coronavirus, experts say there are two things you need to know.

First, most stores have run out of medical-grade face masks when demand spiked with news of the coronavirus outbreak.

Second, infectious disease experts at The University of Kansas Hospital said the medical face masks probably will not protect you from the coronavirus.

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Robert Wamkpah, owner of Express Care Medical Services in Mission, said he's had face masks in his store for six months and not one customer bought one.

During the last month, he sold out and told us medical distributors also are sold out.

"And it doesn't matter who you call," Wamkpah said. "The answer is the same. Independence Medical, Med-line, Mliken Medical, Dedicated Distribution, all and every one of them give you the same answer. They have no control when the supplies will come in."

Part of the problem, he said, is that many of the medical face masks are made in China, where the demand is highest and many factories are closed because the its Hubei Province is the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak.

According to research published in the British Medical Journal, the World Health Organization estimates that global demand for masks and respirators is 100 times higher than normal and costs have gone up 2000%.

Infectious disease control experts said the best protection from the coronavirus is good hygiene, washing your hands frequently and staying away from people who are sick.

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