Bitterroot sees mask, sanitizer shortages

Bitterroot Drug’s owner Dan Berk knows that people are concerned about the novel coronavirus arriving in the Bitterroot Valley.

All he has to do is look at his shelves of his Hamilton store to verify that.

His store has been out of face masks for about a week. His suppliers can’t give him a date on when the next shipment will arrive. The surgeon general has asked the public to refrain from hoarding masks to ensure that health care providers and those diagnosed with the disease will have an ample supply. Common face masks will not keep people from becoming infected, but can help prevent the virus' spread if worn by people who have the disease.

Bottles of hand sanitizer have been so hard to keep on the shelf that Berk is planning to start making his own to meet the needs of his customers.

“That’s not something that we’ve ever done before,” Berk said. “There’s not been that need. We’re getting questions pretty frequently about it (coronavirus). It’s definitely something that people are concerned about.

“At this point, I think it’s a bit inflated,” he said. “People need to find that balance of having a bit of concern and not living in fear.”

Ravalli County Public Health Director Karyn Johnston agreed.

“It seems like everyone is panicking,” Johnston said. “They don’t need to do that.”

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