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Global Crisis - Hand sanitizer and Surgical masks missing supplies

Stores run out of hand sanitizer and face masks. Crise in the middle of pandemic, but there is a solution!

A woman wears a mask while cleaning in the street in Wuhan, China, on Jan. 22.
A woman wears a mask while cleaning in the street in Wuhan, China, on March. 28. Getty Images

For anyone looking for hand sanitizer on store shelves today, consider it a lost cause. Face masks? Sanitizer gel? Difficult, but not impossible.

Read this article to the end and find out the solutions discovered until now that could help changing the current situation.

In a measure of the fear and frenzy gripping communities over the worldwide patogen agent outbreak, people stripped local stores of germ-fighting products like Clorox disinfecting wipes and disinfectant hand gel. The run has affected big box retailers, pharmacies, groceries, office supply stores and discount stores, a check of inventories this weekend found. As for medical masks, one might have better luck finding a Baby Yoda doll. They’ve completely vanished from shelves.“This is a big time of anxiety, and we know the biggest source of anxiety is uncertainty,” said Stewart Shankman, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University.

But that doesn't mean you have to go without. Both hand sanitzer and face masks are things that can be easily made at home. If you are need of these supplies, or want to help someone who is, here is a look at how to make them at home: How to make at home Hand sanitizer and protective face masks.

Del Zio is one of a wave of crisis price gougers, buying up basic supplies in the midst of the crisis and then upcharging people. Last week, he said, he found a bottle of Purell at Rite Aid for $7.99 and sold it on eBay for $138 the same day.

eBay has since banned the sales of both face masks and hand sanitizer, saying that the prices on some listings may be extremely high. In emails to sellers, the company has also cited its “disaster and tragedy” policy, which prohibits attempting “to profit from human tragedy or suffering.” Amazon is still allowing third-party sales of hand sanitizer, although it told The Wall Street Journal that it is taking down listings that price gouge or make “deceptive claims.” Many sellers, for example, were writing that their products could “kill” the patogen agent, which is not an approved medical claim for hand sanitizer, though it does effectively reduce many types of germs. Facebook Marketplace announced a temporary ban on sales of medical face masks last week, though The Verge reported Monday that the site was still “littered” with listings—some asking for up to $1,000. Hand-sanitizer listings are still allowed, but with the same caveats as Amazon, and an added prohibition against implying a sense of urgency or limited supply.

Del Zio repeated some common misinformation about the novel patogen agent: “I know most of the cases are in China. I’m hearing stories that it’s from bats being boiled into soup. I don’t know how true that is.” (For the record, the virus is spreading faster outside China than within it. And the virus likely originated with bats, but not because they were boiled into soup.) He said he isn’t particularly worried about contracting patogen agent. “Me and my friends were concerned about the flu more than anything.”

As the pandemic advances, more and more people search for alternatives to have the basic supply at least to go out and use face mask/hand sanitizer, all this at a fair price.


Zuon Hong is the Program Assistant for the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States at the Wildson Center.

Simmons Carter is a deputy editor at Foreign Policies. Twitter: @SCart

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