February 26, 2020
Prices for respirator masks are rising as public supply dwindles amid government warnings about the potential for widespread coronavirus in the U.S.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced Tuesday that Coronavirus is expected to spread in America and that “disruption to everyday life might be severe,” according to Fox News. It seems the public has already taken this warning to heart, as many listings for respirators masks on Amazon, Ebay and other online retailers have sold out entirely.
Despite the fact that commonly available face masks are unlikely to prevent the spread of Coronavirus according to Business Insider, dozens of Amazon listings appear to have sold out and are listed as “currently unavailable,” at the time of publication. Even retailers like Optics Planet, which sells outdoor and shooting related gear, are struggling to meet consumer demand for masks.
Meanwhile, some aspiring disaster profiteers have taken to listing masks at exorbitant rates on Ebay. Prices for these upcharged masks range from $40 to $1,000 for common 3M brand masks that can usually be had for only a few dollars. (RELATED: CDC Warns Americans To Prepare For Coronavirus Outbreak In Their Communities)
The most expensive listing for N95 respirators on Ebay costs over $11,000. (Screengrab/Ebay)
Despite the reality that masks will likely not stop a person from contracting Coronavirus, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the government needs to stockpile 300 million N95 respirators for use by health service workers, reports Business Insider. These are the same type of masks that are flying off the shelves and into the hands of the general public.
N95 is a designation for a respirator that filters 95% of small and large airborne particles when worn properly, according to the CDC.