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People lining up to buy masks to prevent coronavirus, despite CDC saying the public doesn't need them

A Houston medical supply store is charging $20 per mask.

HOUSTON — The CDC says it is not recommending the use of facemasks to help prevent the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus.

Even so, that hasn’t stopped people in Houston from buying them just in case.

For the last several days, a line of people have waited for Holcombe Medical Supply to open to buy N95 masks.

The store’s owner says demand has skyrocketed in the last month.

“We have been contacting our suppliers to give us masks so we can serve our people, so they can feel safe in the environment,” Ali said.

Health department officials say there are no local cases of novel coronavirus.

Those who have tested positive in the U.S. have been held in isolation.

“The only people who need a mask right now are people who are healthcare workers and people who have symptoms, or they are actually ill. That way they don’t pass the illness onto someone else,” said Porfirio Villarreal with the Houston Health Department.

N95 masks spiked in price January, according to camelcamelcamel, which tracks Amazon prices.

Holcombe Medical Supply is charging $20 to $25 in cash for each mask.

The owner said their supplier increased the price due to a shortage of the masks.

Ace Hardware on Memorial was sold out of N95 masks Thursday. It usually charges $8 for a pack of two masks.

Although some customers were concerned about the high prices at Holcombe Medical Supply, they ultimately decided it was worth it.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office says price gouging is only illegal if there’s a disaster declaration from the governor or president.


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