Americans face mask manufacturers and suppliers can't keep up with coronavirus demand.
Amazon, Walmart and others battle price gouging on coronavirus -related products.

Face Masks can't stop the coronavirus in the US, but hysteria has led to bulk-buying, price-gouging and serious fear for the future.

"It's a madhouse," said Mike Bowen, executive vice president and partner of Prestige Ameritech, the nation's largest surgical mask manufacturer. "We are going as fast as we can."

Bowen estimates that demand for the company's more expensive products is about 1,000 times higher than what it is under normal conditions. Phone calls asking about the masks and respirators used to be a rarity. Now the company fields about 100 calls a day.

(CNN)Panic over the novel coronavirus is hitting a fever pitch in the US. And despite repeated pleas from health officials not to purchase them, Americans can't stop snatching up masks and respirators.
The mask boom has prompted sellers to jack up prices and exploit demand. This has meant a shortage for medics who need them. And Chinese Americans are buying in bulk to send to their families overseas.
"I think after this virus outbreak passes, masks with stronger uses could be in high demand, so business opportunities are definitely there," says Darson Chiu, deputy macroeconomic forecasting director at Taiwan Institute of Economic Research.
Cost of facemasks increases 20-fold

"Demand is up to 100 times higher than normal and prices are up to 20 times higher. This situation has been exacerbated by widespread and inappropriate use of PPE outside patient care. As a result, there are now depleted stockpiles and backlogs of four to six months. Global stocks of masks and respirators are now insufficient to meet the needs of WHO and our partners." said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at At a news conference in Geneva.

As the new coronavirus COVID-19 spreads in the U.S., people who are well want to stay that way. But since no vaccines are currently available, the strongest weapons Americans have are basic preventive measures like hand-washing and sanitizing surfaces, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Mask shortages are now affecting some countries, and suppliers are working overtime to keep up with demand. On Amazon, prices for the devices have sharply increased in recent weeks, and the company has warned sellers not to raise them to exorbitant levels—or risk getting kicked off the site.

Cost of facemasks increases
Overwhelming demand leads to price gouging.

Demand for the masks is the highest its been in months. According to data provided to CNN by Helium 10, a software company that assists Amazon retailers, Amazon users have searched for the word "N95 mask" more than 862,000 times in the last 30 days. In December, users searched for the keyword a mere 4,500 times over 30 days.
And with overwhelming demand comes inevitable price gouging.
The top-selling mask product, a 100-pack of Universal 4533 sanitary dust masks, started selling at $8. The price eventually rose over $200, Helium 10 said.

coronavirus n94 facemask in stock
demand for face masks creates shortfall for those in real need
And even at that price, the product is selling. Or it was -- it's out of stock as of Friday.
Some products don't display a box where users can click to purchase it. Helium 10 said this means Amazon removed the sellers because they'd rapidly increased their prices.
In a statement to CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said removal is part of its company policy to discourage price-gouging sellers.
"Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively," the spokesperson said. "We actively monitor our stores and remove offers that violate our policies."
But that doesn't stop people from buying them at elevated prices anyway.
For the East Asian diaspora in the US, buying masks while they're still available is a necessity for family members abroad. Surgical masks and respirators have been sold out for weeks in the areas where outbreaks are ballooning.
Stefanie Yu, a tech worker in San Francisco, hadn't considered shipping masks to her family in Guanzhou until a friend who'd recently returned from China called her with an urgent message -- buy for your family immediately.
"'Oh, this is happening,'" Yu remembered thinking. "Everyone is trying to get masks."
Every website and major retailer she visited had sold out of every mask. Respirators she clicked open on Amazon were gone within minutes.
She finally found a few from a packaging supply company. She bought 50 boxes with two N95 respirators each, which cost her more than $250.
"Those are disposable," she said. "You're supposed to wear it one time for a couple hours. So it's definitely expensive."
Shipping was even more chaotic, she said. A company that ships to China sent them on February 7 for $80. Then, about a week ago, the company told her it had returned the masks because no planes were flying to China.
The only other option to get the masks to her family would cost her another $80. She paid it.
She's still not sure if the masks made it -- or whether they ever will.
"I'm not the only one who's experienced this," she said. "[The company] was seeing a lot of people shipping masks, and according to them, most of the masks got turned back."
Her family is based in southern China, where the situation is not as severe as it is in Wuhan, where the outbreak originated. Her father still goes on his daily morning run. But every store there is sold out of masks and will be for the foreseeable future.
"I think lots of Chinese people who have overseas resources to buy masks and ship it back will do that," she said.
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medical face mask types COVID-19
Face Mask types N95, surgical CDC FDA
The mask's price from American retailers like Amazon or eBay jumps rapidly! It is almost impossible to find suppliers with face masks in stock now, it's been sold out instantly!
The manufacturers have difficulty purchasing raw materials, which are extremely hard to find now. Demand exceeds supply, the price is changing and rising every day.
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