Tags: China | coronavirus | wuhan virus | masks | outbreak | cdc

NY Times: Panic-Buying Face Masks May Spark Virus Outbreak in US

a woman in new york city wearing a face mask
A woman who said she works for a pharmaceutical company wears a mask in New York city to protect against the coronavirus. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

By    |   Friday, 31 January 2020 09:12 AM

Americans who hoard face masks out of fears of contracting the coronavirus could help cause an outbreak of the virus within the United States, where only five cases have been reported so far, The New York Times reports.

Multiple pharmacies have run out of face masks, having sold them to customers concerned about the new virus that emerged in Wuhan, China. Bayard Pharmacy in New York City's Chinatown told the Times that one customer bought 12 boxes, each of which contains 50 masks. However, the Times notes that wearing face masks actually does not do much to help protect healthy people from contracting the virus; it's more useful for people who are already infected to wear a face mask to avoid spreading the virus, and for doctors who need the face masks to prevent getting infected by their patients.

"We see panic ordering and buying that doesn't reflect the actual need," Dr. Anita Patel, the senior adviser and lead for pandemic medical care and countermeasures with the CDC's Influenza Coordination Unit, told the Times. "We're talking to manufacturers. They understand the situation, and I'm confident that they are being responsible. The healthcare industry is their biggest customer."

Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, the co-director of the University of Washington MetaCenter for Pandemic Preparedness and Global Health Security, recalled dealing with the "swine flu" outbreak in 2009 at Yale Hospital. He told the Times, "we ran out of N-95 masks — and being in a high-risk situation without enough masks is not a good feeling. There's no rational reason why everyone needs to run out and get masks. Public health officials should be talking about this."

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Americans who hoard face masks out of fears of contracting the coronavirus could help cause an outbreak of the virus within the U.S., where only five cases have been reported so far, The New York Times reports
coronavirus, wuhan virus, masks, outbreak, cdc
272
2020-12-31
Friday, 31 January 2020 09:12 AM
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