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Bloomington Hardware Seeing Mass Purchases Of Dust Masks, Respirators

A pack of respirator dust masks at Bloomington Hardware.

A pack of protective dust masks at Bloomington Hardware. (Mitch Legan, WFIU/WTIU News)

Bloomington True Value Hardware’s supply of protective face masks are almost sold out in the wake of the increasing spread of COVID-19.

Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declared the first case in the United States in late February, the store can’t keep up with the demand.

That’s despite the fact experts say masks won’t do much to protect wearers from getting the new coronavirus.

Even with trucks delivering the products three times a week, dust masks as well as N-95 and N-100 respirator masks typically sell out before they hit the shelves at Bloomington Hardware. The masks are intended to be used by painters, contractors, and woodworkers.

Bloomington Hardware Manager Kristi Hill says most of the customers asking for the masks are worried about COVID-19. She says she has had multiple people buy the masks with the intention of sending them overseas to where the virus has affected areas the most.

“Last week we didn’t even get them put up on the shelf," Hill says. "We had them in the tote boxes and before we could even get them stocked, they were already sold out. Last week we got about 90 masks that were sold out within a day.” 

Hill says the store has already surpassed the total number of masks sold in 2019.

She says there has been a maximum put on how many masks they can order from the distributors. She says that it is uncertain how many masks the store will receive even if they order them because vendors cannot produce them fast enough for the demand.

On top of the masks being sold out, Hill has also sold out of rubbing alcohol and hand sanitizer. Clorox disinfecting wipes and surface cleaners are also low in stock.

Rows of cleaning supplies and products at Bloomington Hardware.
Rows of cleaning supplies and products at Bloomington Hardware. (Mitch Legan, WFIU/WTIU News)

“As far as everything else that we are trying to get, hand sanitizer is a huge one; Clorox wipes and Lysol wipes, sprays—that’s another thing that we’ve seen our warehouses are out of," she says.

Multiple health stores in Bloomington are also sold out of medical masks.

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