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Virus fears driving huge demand for face masks

Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 19:51:58-05

Marc Kaplan runs a small medical supply company in Brooklyn, New York and starting in late December of last year he started receiving unusual calls all day long.

"We're getting calls from all over the world for like 10 million, 100 million masks," said Kaplan.

As the coronavirus spreads to even more countries and world capitals, people, institutions, and governments are looking to increasingly unlikely places to meet the demand for medical supplies.

Global health officials have sought to reassure the public that the virus remains a manageable threat, but items like masks and hand sanitizer have become increasingly difficult to find.

Even the U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams tweeted: "seriously people – STOP BUYING MASKS!"

Kaplan said his company, Save Rite Medical, isn't getting calls from individual citizens, but from large foundations and governments.

"I don't believe it's actually individuals in America that are buying up all the masks because there were no masks even buy. Individuals don't go to medical supply companies like us. We don't get calls from individuals. We get calls from foundations and governments right now to buy masks. It's not individuals buying one or two boxes," said Kaplan.

Kaplan said he receives multiple offers a day from people saying they have masks to sell, but says most of the offers are for expired masks.

He said many of the masks he sees on ebay and other sites are also expired.

"When I go online and I look up these, there's lot numbers on each individual box, if you look up the lot number, you could see if it's expired if you call the manufacturer with that lot number.

And 95 masks have a five year shelf life from the date manufacturer," said Kaplan.

Kaplan says his reply to the seemly never ending calls is simple: "We don't have them."