Survey: Media coverage of coronavirus drives run on surgical masks

Friday, February 7, 2020

ARLINGTON, Va. – Sixty-three percent of local pharmacists say customers are buying surgical masks as a precaution against the coronavirus, and 96% say they’re selling them faster than they can restock, according to a new survey from the National Community Pharmacists Association.

Respirator masks, hand sanitizer and gloves are also selling quickly, they say.

Thirty-two percent of pharmacists surveyed say the coronavirus is a significant public health threat, according to the survey. Forty-two percent disagree, while 26% are unsure.

Wall-to-wall news coverage of the coronavirus is driving concern among patients, even though only a handful of cases have been reported in the US, compared to China, where parts of the country are under quarantine, and other parts of the world.

“It’s wise to be prepared, but there’s no reason for Americans to panic,” said Brian Caswell, president of the NCPA and owner of Wolkar Pharmacy in Baxter Springs, Kan. “The flu kills tens of thousands of Americans every year. Only a handful of Americans have been diagnosed with coronavirus in this country and there are not yet any fatalities. Americans should remember to wash their hands frequently, avoid crowds if possible, and disinfect the things they touch.”