Anchorage, AK --
Since Friday morning, the Coronavirus has killed at least 259 people in China. There are now more than 10 thousand cases worldwide, in about two dozen countries, with 7 here in the U.S. --and with this weeks Wuhan evacuee flight refueling in Anchorage, people are stocking up.
In just the last nine days, Lake Otis Medical Supply has sold over 4,000 face masks. Things started to pick up after it was announced that the flight carrying over 200 U.S. Citizens evacuating from Wuhan was refueling here in Anchorage, but since then things haven't slowed down.
"We ordered as much as we can, but they keep flying off the shelf. Our local vendor sold out, we tried a secondary vendor in the Lower 48, they're sold out. They said they don't know when they're getting any more," said Carlee Sgroi, DME Specialist at Lake Otis Medical Supply.
Alaska isn't the only state running low. One customer, Nancy Sanders was buying multiple boxes to send to her friend's family that lives in Hong Kong. Her friend lives in Washington State where they are all sold out. "It's helping her and helping her family -you feel like you can't really do anything when your family is so far away, so this gives the ability to do that," Sanders said.
While the virus does pose a risk, experts want to remind everyone that here in the United States, the standard flu remains just as much, if not a greater threat -taking more than 8,000 American lives this season alone.
"It's important for the public to continue to do what they are always advised to do. Which is wash their hands, don't go to work when you're sick... because the spread of influenza is just as serious of a problem as the spread of the Coronavirus," said Dr. Michael Bernstein, Chief Medical Officer for Providence Alaska.
This afternoon, Lake Otis Medical Supply received 12 new cases of masks, and hopes to be able to get more next week.
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