As fears over the coronavirus outbreak spread, thousands of Americans are clamoring to buy face masks in an effort to , is a small business based in Texas with only 100 employees. And while they have no problem fulfilling America’s normal demand for face masks and respirators, they are now struggling to keep up.
Mike Bowen, the company’s executive vice president, told CBS News that they now field orders of up to 100 million face masks and respirators a day. He also noted that while the company does not ship its products internationally, in the last 30 days it has sold between 1 million and 2 million masks to buyers who then sent them to others in China and Hong Kong.
This huge spike in personal orders is precisely what experts fear will cause a dangerous inventory shortage in American hospitals — a shortage that is entirely avoidable, given that there are no proven benefits to the general public wearing masks.
The best way to prevent coronavirus: Wash your hands
Experts say washing your hands is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious illnesses like coronavirus. That’s because one of the most common ways infections spread is when people touch a contaminated surface and then touch their mouth or nose.
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly. CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook points out that it’s especially important to make sure that you scrub the soap into your fingertips because they are simultaneously the part of the hand most often neglected and the part of the hand most likely to touch your face and spread disease.
Soap and water is far more effective than hand sanitizer. If you’re using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer, you should make sure that it contains at least 60% alcohol.
Beyond that, the CDC advises that, whenever possible, you should also avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands, avoid contact with sick people, cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze, and disinfect objects and surfaces frequently.