Local pharmacies selling out of surgical masks as coronavirus causes global concern

NY News

Pedestrians wear protective masks as they walk through a shopping district in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Japan’s government said Thursday a man treated for pneumonia after returning from China has tested positive for the new coronavirus identified as a possible cause of an outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — With the coronavirus making headlines everyday, local pharmacies can’t seem to keep surgical masks on the shelves. Just how much should you be buying into the hype?

“I understand in New York State there hasn’t been a confirmed case, but there are suspicious cases,” local pediatrician Dr. James Saperstone tells News10.

Most locally, two people in Broome County are being tested for the coronavirus. Those residents recently returned from travel to China, and went to local medical facilities complaining of respiratory illness.

Dr. James Saperstone tells News10 the seriousness of the virus shouldn’t be taken lightly.

“It’s a problem because no one has immunity to this virus,” Dr. Saperstone tells News10.

But here in the Capital Region, he doesn’t necessarily think to wear a surgical mask over your face will do anything for you.

“It’s kind of fruitless to wear a mask, unless you’re in an area where it is in China,” Dr. Saperstone says.

You’ll probably have trouble finding one to begin with. Two pharmacies right across the street from one another in Albany are both out of stock. A spokesperson for CVS tells us they’re working with their suppliers to meet the demand, and that may cause shortages at some stores.

There were only a couple of boxes left at Marra’s in Cohoes. The pharmacy’s president, John McDonald, tells us for some people, it’s more of a psychological precaution.

“A lot of people feel more comfortable with them. If anything, it kind of sends the message not to get too close to individuals. If you look at the Department of Health guidelines that they’re putting out for the coronavirus, it’s very similar to what they do with a typical flu,” McDonald says.

The symptoms are similar too, but at this point, experts say if you haven’t been to China, you probably have the flu or a common cold.

A spokesperson for the Albany airport tells News10 the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases may announce new traveler recommendations soon.

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