Prices surge online for medical masks amid coronavirus fears

MEMPHIS, tenn. — The fear of the coronavirus has many people trying to buy anything that might protect them from the illness.

On Amazon the price of some medical masks may seem reasonable, but many won’t even protect you against the virus.

A medical supply store in Memphis said they can’t even get the mask that protects against the coronavirus which is causing shipping costs to go up on Amazon.

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The N-95 masks filter particles in the air, including viruses and bacteria. That’s why they’re flying off the shelves.

Direct Medical in Memphis sold those masks until a few months ago until they ran out of stock.

"We have run out of stock over a month ago or two months ago. We have been out of stock and sold our last supply to St. Jude Hospital,' ------------

The company said the mask costs about $12 and about $20 to ship.

On Amazon we found one hundred surgical masks being sold for $69 dollars, but the shipping cost was $150.

“We get calls every day, and the online orders have been cancelled, and we are not able to supply them. We have had to refund customers their money.”

Direct Medical’s Alfred Lloyd said he calls the makers of the masks and suppliers just about every day to find out if there are any available. He said there doesn’t appear to be any coming soon.

In fact, he said he has been told the masks are being prioritized for hospitals.

You might think sellers charging high prices or raising shipping costs are price gouging, but that typically requires an emergency declaration of some sort.

An Amazon spokesperson told FOX13:

“There is no place for price gouging on Amazon. We are disappointed that bad actors are attempting to artificially raise prices on basic need products during a global health crisis and, in line with our long-standing policy, have recently blocked or removed tens of thousands of offers. We continue to actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies.”

—  Amazon spokesperson

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