Hand Sanitizer, Cleaning Items Hard to Find Amid Coronavirus Fears

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Right now, there is a mad dash to stock up on products to help kill germs because of the coronavirus.

It's causing stores across the United States to sell out of items like hand sanitizer.

Retailers said the increased sales seem to coincide with the developments in the coronavirus epidemic, particularly with the CDC announcing last week that it's stepped up its call for the public to start preparing for a possible pandemic outbreak in the U.S.

The side effect of these concerns is being felt in North Texas currently, with cleaning products like hand sanitizer, wipes and masks flying off retail store shelves.

According to market research firm Nielsen, sales for hand sanitizer in the U.S. are up 73% in the last month compared to this time last year.

Tuesday afternoon, Tarrant County Public Health along with the Fort Worth Fire Department updated city council members during their work session about what they’re doing to prepare if COVID-19 arrives in the area.

NBC 5 visited several stores across the area and confirmed that multiple locations for Walmart, Walgreens, CVS, H-E-B, Target and Kroger were showing empty shelves for hand sanitizer and wipes.

One worker at a store in Dallas said every time she would stock the shelf with hand sanitizer, the items would be sold out within an hour.

NBC 5 requested more information from various retailers on how the companies are addressing the high demand.

UNT Health Science Center’s Dr. Diana Cervantes epidemiologist joins NBC 5 Health reporter Bianca Castro to answer questions about coronavirus.

Walmart issued the following statement:

“We continue to monitor the development of the coronavirus situation globally, and are closely following official recommendations while working with our suppliers to understand and mitigate any supply chain disruptions. Providing customers with the products they want and need remains our focus.”

CVS said they are working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for hand sanitizers and masks.

"This demand may cause temporary shortages for these products at some store locations and we re-supply those stores as quickly as possible," a company spokesperson said. "We are not experiencing any significant shortage of disinfectant wipes and sprays at this time."

Using a tool that looks like something out of a movie, custodians at Garland ISD are spraying down classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, and buses with a disinfectant used to stop the spread of germs.

Walgreens said, "In many of our stores, we have been seeing greater demand for certain products such as hand sanitizers, cleaning products, paper goods and health and wellness items. We’re continually and closely monitoring the situation, and continue to work with our supplier partners to best meet the needs of our customers."

H-E-B is also keeping an eye on the situation.

"Texans are following the advice of health officials and taking measures to promote better health and hand washing practices, causing increased demand for certain products," the company told NBC 5 in a statement. "These buying trends are expected and at H-E-B, our team is working around the clock to ensure our customers can find the products they need. H-E-B stores are being restocked multiple times a day."

And Target CEO Brian Cornell said they've been contingency planning for weeks with their vendors and team members both here and overseas.

"As you know, we have a highly sophisticated sourcing and supply chain organization," he told media in a conference call.

He said he feels confident in the company's plans to manage through the situation.

"Certainly we’ve seen aggressive shopping across the country in our stores. So, we’re working closely with our domestic vendors, with our partners to make sure that we’re elevating inventory in preparation for what we think is going to be a continued demand for stock-up items," Cornell said. "We’re seeing that across our network, expect it to continue over the next few weeks and we’ll watch it carefully over time."

The CDC says the best way to combat coronavirus is washing your hands thoroughly with soap and water.

How to Avoid COVID-19 Infection:

The best way to prevent infection is to take precautions to avoid exposure to this virus, which are similar to the precautions you take to avoid the flu. CDC always recommends these everyday actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

*Information shared from the Office of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

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