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Shoppers worried about coronavirus stock piling hand sanitizer, toilet paper

Shoppers are stocking up on supplies to prepare for the potential spread of coronavirus.

At a Costco in South Seattle on Saturday, customers bought up hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes.

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“I don’t think there’s any reason to panic but I do think that if people aren’t cautious and don’t follow the news, there could be a situation in which people infect other people without knowing it and that could be dangerous,” one shopper said.

Surgical masks were sold out at Costco, as well as Kirkland brand toilet paper.

“We’re generally just prepared for stuff like this because we don’t want any germs, frankly,” another Costo shopper said. “I understand that this is a new thing and people are trying to figure out how to wrangle it in and keep everybody healthy, but I think the big message is wash your ‘hands, wash our hands.'”

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A similar situation was reported at the Costco near Lake Oswego in Oregon. Worried shoppers thronged the store, emptying shelves of items including toilet paper, paper towels, bottled water, frozen berries, and black beans.

“Toilet paper is golden in an apocalypse,” one Costco employee said.

Employees said the store ran out of toilet paper for the first time in its history and that it was the busiest they had ever seen, including during Christmas Eve.

The surgeon general on Saturday said he wants the public to stop buying masks, saying that they won’t help against the spread of coronavirus. Buying masks is depleting resources that health care officials need.

Jerome M. Adams tweeted Saturday morning:

“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

Consumers are stock piling masks from hardware stores and online retailers. The New York Times reports the surge has led to price gouging and knock offs.

Adams said the best way to protect yourself against coronavirus is washing hands and staying homes if you feel ill.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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