Local stores sell out of respirator masks amid coronavirus fears

At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the novel strain in Oregon.

Posted: Feb 27, 2020 6:25 PM
Updated: Mar 10, 2020 4:24 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Medical supply and hardware stores in the Eugene area are selling out of respirator masks as coronavirus fears gear up. At this time, there are no confirmed cases of the novel strain in Oregon.

N95 respirator masks are designed to filter out fine particles from the air. Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention isn't recommending people use the masks outside of medical settings, customers told KEZI 9 News they are buying them out of an abundance of caution.

RELATED: Lane County Public Health braces for novel coronavirus

Eugene medical supply store Shaw Med posted a sign on the front door alerting customers that they are sold out of the masks.

Co-owner Jennifer Carlson said they noticed travelers and people with families abroad purchasing the respirators starting several weeks ago. As more and more people began coming in, they began limiting the quantities people could purchase.

"Not until the last days have we had the real flooding of what's happening. And we've sold 12 boxes in two days," Carlson said.

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The store started keeping a waiting list on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours later, nearly 40 people were on the list. Their next confirmed shipment isn't until late next month. 

King Medical Supply in Eugene said that respirators are also on back order at their store.

"People are panicking and wanting to send them overseas or take them traveling. Unfortunately, we are completely out of stock and really have no idea when we are supposed to get some in," said office manager Tammy Imlar.


Hardware stores are also feeling the crunch. True Value Hardware has also sold out of the masks. Store manager Terry White said they only rarely see this kind of demand.

"As of this morning, our True Value distribution center didn't have anything left," said White. "Most of the rush was because of the smoke when the fires were bad a couple of summers ago. There's some concern that because of this they aren't going to have enough if they have a bad fire season."

As many customers turn to online outlets to buy the respirators, prices are going up. KEZI 9 News found that a sold-out two pack of them sold for $7 at Target. The same pack on Ebay was selling for $60.

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