Feb 29, 2020 - Health

CVS faces shortage of face masks and hand sanitizer as coronavirus fears rise

A shops in Alhambra, California on Feb. 27 Photo: Frederic Brown via Getty Images

As more people are buying out Clorox wipes, sprays and bleach, CVS is handling temporary shortages of hand sanitizer and fitted N95 face masks that began earlier this month, CVS spokesperson Joe Goode told Axios.

Driving the news: Health officials in California, Oregon and Washington announced Friday that four patients are presumed to have the novel coronavirus. Three of them were infected by unknown means, per the CDC, while the fourth case is likely travel related.

Details: CVS shortages began in early February, Goode said, and the company is resupplying as quickly as possible amid a "surge in customer demand." CVS does not currently have a significant shortage of disinfectant wipes or sprays, he said.

  • Goode declined to identify which CVS locations are experiencing these temporary shortages, noting that the company has a local retail presence in 10,000 communities.

Reality check: Washing your hands is the best way to protect against the coronavirus, according to doctors and health officials.

  • The U.S. Surgeon General urged Americans to "stop buying masks" on Saturday, saying that "if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!"
  • Jerome Adams said that face masks are not effective for keeping the general public from catching the coronavirus.

The big picture: There are severe shortages of face masks in China, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, as people are encouraged to wear them.

  • When low-risk countries stockpile N-95 masks, they are taking the supply away from people who have an immediate need for them, Axios' Marisa Fernandez reports.

Go deeper... California coronavirus: Latest case has no recent history of international travel

Go deeper

Cities face severe supply shortages amid coronavirus outbreak

Nurses in masks, goggles, gloves, and protective gowns stand outside a yellow tent as they wait for their next patient in Bern Township, Penn., where they are conducting drive through coronavirus testing. Photo by Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images.

First responders and health care workers are dealing with massive shortages of critical supplies such as face masks, personal protective equipment, ventilators and test kits, according to a survey of 213 cities from 41 states and Puerto Rico.

Why it matters: The shortages of critical supplies have reached "crisis proportions" and are putting at risk the lives of residents and front-line medical workers across the country, per the survey conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

Go deeperArrowMar 27, 2020 - Health

The emerging coronavirus economy

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Companies that make products geared toward staying at home — think peanut butter, exercise bikes and telecommunication software — are the unexpected beneficiaries of the evolving coronavirus economy.

Why it matters: There are dour forecasts for the global economy as the coronavirus runs its course. But investors are placing bets on what consumers will need as the fast-spreading outbreak worsens.

World coronavirus updates: Australian police probe cruise ship docking

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens and confirmed plus presumptive cases from the CDC

The Ruby Princess berthed south of Sydney Monday — hours after Australian police launched a criminal investigation into the cruise ship, which has been linked to 11 deaths and over 600 cases of the novel coronavirus.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed more than 69,000 people and infected 1.25 million others globally as of early Monday, per Johns Hopkins data. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 131,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 15,000). About half the planet's population is now on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 9 mins ago - Health