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Surgical masks sell out due to coronavirus fears

A pharmacist said the demand is unprecedented and they have been sold out for a week.

SCRANTON, Pa. — Surgical masks are flying off the shelves at pharmacies around northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

Gwendllyn Thomas went to Walmart in Wilkes-Barre township looking to buy one, but she went home disappointed.

"I figured they would have it due to the outbreak. You think they would have ordered ahead or reached out to a different company to see what they could do to rectify the situation," Thomas said.

Customers at Walgreens in Kingston also left empty-handed; Ronald Romashko wanted to purchase some for his grandkids.

"I can take care of myself and stay at home and stuff, but the little guys want to go out and go all over the place. So they're bound to run into other little guys who might pick it up too," Romashko said.

Pharmacists at Andrew Brown's Drug Store in Scranton said they have never seen demand like this; the supply sold out about a week ago. 

Workers have been calling the supplier every day to try to get more.

"It is kind of frustrating that you can't get them, but I mean, we understand. It's a world-wide problem, and there's a lot of concern for it," Pharmacist Michael Brown said.

The City of Wilkes-Barre is fully stocked with masks, bodysuits, and even protective eye gear.

"It's something we prepare for daily, year-round, having our nurses have their kits, all our protective equipment ready to go at a moment's notice. We're on call 24-hours a day so, we're ready. We hope it doesn't happen, but we are prepared," Wilkes-Barre City Health Department Director Henry Radulski said.

According to the state, there are no known cases of the coronavirus in Pennsylvania.

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