AUSTIN, Texas - The CDC says it's not necessary to use face masks to protect a person from the coronavirus, but that hasn’t stopped people from buying the most popular N95 mask. Here in Central Texas, so many people have bought these masks that it has become almost impossible to find.
FOX 7 Austin reached out to several businesses around the area who said they have been sold out of the popular N95 masks for months now. One clinic said they get close to 50 calls a day asking for the mask and they don't even sell medical supplies. This is a similar problem most medical businesses in Austin are facing.
“Everybody's calling and asking for N95. We've probably had three to four dozen today alone. I mean pretty much every phone calls and asks do you have N95,” said Bill Watkins.
Watkins has worked at the Medical Xpress store in North Austin for two years. He says he has never seen such a demand for a mask like this before.
“My response is you're not going to find them anywhere unless you go on eBay. Everybody's on what they call ‘allocation’ so it's hospitals, the CDC, and first responders. They're going to be the priority to get them before retailers,” said Watkins.
According to the CDC, N95 masks are able to filter around 95% of small particles, including bacteria and viruses, but the CDC says those masks are not necessary and are made to be used by healthcare personnel not to for the public to use on a daily basis.
“It's good to be prepared, but I think that it's way too much right now,” said Watkins.
Watkins says Medical Xpress doesn’t expect to get a restock of the N95 masks until the summer. For now, the store does have other options including sanitizers and other types of masks.
“Right now, we have the level three which is a regular mask that has a face shield on it, and then we also have a level one [surgical mask],” said Watkins.
The masks can run anywhere from $20-$50 for a pack. If you can’t get your hands on some, Watkins says it’s not necessary. He says just remember the basic things you were taught when you get sick
“If you're going to sneeze, you sneeze into your arm, you make sure you carry Kleenex with you. When you're sick, stay home. Don't go to don't spread it out in public. It's just some of the common sense,” he said.