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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Pharmacists seeing shortage of face masks in response to coronavirus and flu

Highland Heights Pharmacy is the oldest pharmacy in Memphis. In all its 90 plus years, the business remains full of drug store items, but what you won’t f...

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – The coronavirus continues to be a major issue worldwide. The Centers for Disease Control is warning Americans to be prepared for the spread. 

While the number of U.S. cases remain fairly low, health leaders are now turning to guidelines written for pandemic flu and discussing the possibility of school closures, telecommuting and canceling events. 

Highland Heights Pharmacy is the oldest pharmacy in Memphis. In all its 90 plus years, the business remains full of drug store items, but what you won’t find on the shelves are face masks.

“When the coronavirus first hit the news, we started getting phone calls. I hadn’t even been home to watch the news and within two days, our masks sold out,” said Suzanne Tagg, Highland Heights Pharmacy owner.

It is becoming the case all around not just because of the coronavirus, but the flu as well. Another pharmacy that did not want to go on camera said it even had a problem restocking because its provider was out. 

“We’ve always had some demand for masks, but nothing like recently,” said Tagg. 

Do face masks even help with these viruses?

“That’s debatable. They may help some, but they’re not going to totally prevent the flu. They’re not going to totally prevent the coronavirus,” said Tagg. 

On the contrary, there are preventative methods health experts are sure works.

“Viruses in general, they can be airborne. They can be surface-born, so it’s very important to wash your hands,” said Tagg. “My biggest thing is first you want to prevent. Get your flu vaccine. Stay away from crowded places during flu season. If you are sick, stay home. Make it a special point to stay away from the very young and the very old or people who are immune compromised because for those people, the flu can be much more dangerous and more potentially deadly.”

Tagg said she does not plan on restocking masks any time soon. 

Instead, she is going to encourage people to take those other precautions.