Mar 5, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus panic fuels sales for health supplies and canned goods

Demand for cleaning supplies in-store and online are up. Photo: Richard Tsong-Taatarii/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Online sales for health supplies skyrocketed this past week, with masks and disinfectants seeing triple-digit increases as consumers prepare for their communities to be impacted by the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Despite the stock market's nervous reflection of economic uncertainty, companies for cleaning, toiletry products and nonperishable foods are faring well amid expectations of social distancing and school closures in the U.S.

What's happening: Revenue sales for common stockpile items have seen a big boost, according to data recorded by Bloomreach for Feb. 23–29:

  • Masks increased by 590%
  • Hand sanitizers by 420%
  • Clorox/Lysol wipes by 184%
  • Canned food by 183%
  • Disinfectants by 178%
  • Bottled/packaged water by 78%
  • Hand soap by 33%
  • Toilet paper and paper towels by 26%

Between the lines: Health officials have advised against regular consumers buying masks, which have seen the highest surge in sales, due to shortage fears for health care workers and sick people who really need them.

Go deeper: Full coronavirus coverage

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The race to make more masks and ventilators

Fabric cutouts that will become masks are lined up at Xtreme Pro Apparel on March 23 in Broomfield, Colo. Photo: Helen H. Richardson/The Denver Post

The U.S. is scouring the globe and leaning on non-medical manufacturers to help overcome shortages of ventilators, masks, gloves and gowns.

Why it matters: Nearly 90% of U.S. mayors who responded to a national survey on coronavirus preparedness said they lack sufficient tests kits, face masks and other protective equipment for their emergency responders and medical workers, the Washington Post reports.

Go deeperArrowMar 28, 2020 - Health

Trump: Some hospitals are hoarding ventilators

President Trump during his coronavirus briefing at the White House on Sunday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump claimed during a briefing at the White House on Sunday that some hospitals and health care workers were "hoarding equipment, including ventilators" and suggested reporters and states look into the increased demand for masks.

Details: Trump's comments drew criticism from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Greater New York Hospital Association, which said health care workers "deserve better than their president suggesting that PPE is 'going out the back door' of New York hospitals," in reference to Trump singling out an unnamed state hospital to question why they were using so many masks.

Go deeperArrowMar 30, 2020 - Health

The workers feeding America

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As worried shoppers buy in bulk, stress is mounting for retailers, warehouses and farms — which need more labor at the very time people are being told to stay at home.

Why it matters: America isn't running out of food. But there's increasing strain on the supply chain as the workers who produce and deliver our groceries are sheltering at home, quarantined or are (justifiably) too spooked to show up for work.