Sacramento stores, suppliers running out of masks amid coronavirus concerns

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The deadly coronavirus is continuing to spread throughout China and the world.

By Friday, there were seven confirmed cases within the U.S, mainly from people who had just traveled to China.

In California, a third case of the coronavirus has been confirmed, this time in Santa Clara County in the Bay Area.

“Earlier today, the CDC notified us that a resident of our county is confirmed to have the novel coronavirus,” said Dr. Sara Cody with the Santa Clara Public Health Department.

A man flew back from China last week to Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport.

“He had traveled to Wuhan, China, and became ill upon returning home,” Dr. Cody explained.

But health officials say once in the U.S., the man self-isolated and went straight from the airport to his house.

Santa Clara County officials told the public Friday the risk of spread is extremely low.

“We do not have evidence to suggest that the novel coronavirus is circulating in the Bay Area, in Santa Clara County or really in Northern California,” Cody said.

However, in Sacramento, respiratory face masks were sold out at pharmacies across the city, possibly because some are buying them up out of fear the coronavirus could spread.

“Last couple of days, everyone's been calling about these N95 masks,” said Jason Elder, who works at Mid-Valley Surgical Supply Inc. in West Sacramento.

On Monday, he had 150 boxes of masks. By the end of the week, he was down to just six boxes.

“People would just show up like all day. Show up, show up, show up, show up and ask for masks,” he told FOX40.

Some asked for Elder’s entire stock but he said he would only sell four boxes at a time.

“Because if I gave everybody, the first person all my gloves then nobody else would have the opportunity to buy any, especially if they’re sold out everywhere,” he said.

His suppliers were also sold out of the masks, and gloves and isolation gowns were also selling fast.

Other medical supply stores and pharmacies in Sacramento told FOX40 they were getting dozens of phone calls a day asking for masks.

At this point in time, however, doctors with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention do not recommend using masks in the U.S.

After talking to a few customers, Elder said he believes some of his masks and supplies might be heading to China.

“Some people have family members there because they’re completely sold out there too,” Elder said.

Elder said he will not raise his prices.

“Because mostly people coming in are buying for their families,” he explained. “We don’t want to make somebody pay more and more just to keep safe.”

However, he said that could change.

“Yeah, if it gets to the point where I have to pay a lot more money for them, then I have no choice, we got to raise the price up,” he said.

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