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Military surplus stores see sales spike because of coronavirus

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Posted at 6:45 AM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 07:45:01-05

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — From gas masks to survival gear, Mickey’s Surplus Store in Kansas City, Kansas, says people are snatching up gear they think will keep them safe against the novel coronavirus.

Mickey's employee Ernesto Salazar said he warns every customer that gas masks aren’t designed to prevent them from breathing viruses, so there’s no guarantee it will work like people hope.

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams recently tweeted that there is no need to buy a face mask. He and other medical experts continue to say that washing your hands and avoiding sick people are the best ways to stay healthy.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk of the general public getting sick from the coronavirus is low.

Still, Salazar says he hasn’t seen shoppers react this way since Y2K.

“I would say we're probably 10 times up what we would normally sell (in terms of gas masks),” Salazar said. “We usually sell some and it's mostly kids who buy them because they just like collecting them for whatever reason. Now it's usually the head of the family buying them and they're buying them for themselves and their kids."

Other customers are buying camping-style supplies such as waterproof matches, water purification systems and MREs. Salazar said those customers explain they want to be ready to live in the woods if the virus starts spreading in the crowded metropolitan area.

As of now, there are no confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Missouri or Kansas.

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