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Masks are selling out in some COVID hot spots with the delta variant surging and new mask mandates

Masks are selling out in some COVID hot spots with the delta variant surging and new mask mandates

FINANCIAL NEWS

Masks are selling out in some COVID hot spots with the delta variant surging and new mask mandates

Delta variant: Why the respiratory illness is so easily transmissibleThe delta variant is one of the most contagious respiratory illnesses. Find out why it’s easily transmissible.Just the FAQs, USA TODAYAnother COVID-19 shortage is looming as the delta variant continues to surge.While experts have predicted some school supplies could sell out, face masks are becoming harder to find across the country, including in some COVID hot spots. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its mask guidance July 27 to recommend that people vaccinated for the coronavirus start wearing masks indoors again in areas with substantial or high transmission. As of Thursday, over 90% of counties in the U.S. are experiencing high or substantial transmission.The week the CDC updated guidelines, mask sales increased 24% over the following week, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index. The next week, online mask sales spiked up 51% and were up 40% for the week that ended Aug. 10.►Back-to-school shopping: What’s different amid COVID-19; how to avoid school supply shortages►Mask mandates: Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, Kohl’s, Publix update mask policies for employees; encourage customers to wear masksThe CDC also is calling for mask-wearing in schools among students, staff and teachers to protect children who aren’t eligible for vaccines.“While the growth in mask sales is not as high as last year, in part because people likely have leftover inventory, the double-digit growth in the last three weeks has been striking,” Vivek Pandya, Adobe Digital Insights lead analyst, told USA TODAY. “It has also moved in the same direction as the news uptick around the delta variant.”The scenario marks a shift from the past two months when masks were heavily discounted and pushed to the side on the sales floor after the CDC relaxed guidance in May. Even before then, data from NielsenIQ showed that mask sales consistently declined weekly since early April, going from $101 million worth of masks to roughly $37 million for the week ended July 3.►Amazon mask recommendations: Here are nine reusable face masks Amazon shoppers swear by►Back-to-school sales 2021: Everything you need including backpacks, headphones, laptops and moreCOVID-19: CDC recommends Americans wear masks indoors againThe CDC reversed course and urged even fully vaccinated Americans to wear masks indoors in areas of high COVID-19 transmission.Staff video, USA TODAYWill face masks sell out?USA TODAY visited Target and Walmart stores across the nation and found the selection of masks available to be lower than a few months ago and varied by location. Options were also limited on the retailers’ websites as to availability for online pickup orders.At a Walmart in South Florida, a COVID-19 hot spot, masks for children were not available but there were several “personal protection kits” that included two masks selling for $4.A Gap Inc. spokesperson told USA TODAY that searches for masks started increasing again about a month ago and have “significantly” accelerated this week at the company’s brands that include Old Navy, Gap, Banana Republic and Athleta. The company has non-medical, reusable masks in stock online and in stores where available, the spokesperson said.Masks are still more widely available than in the early days of the pandemic when many Americans turned to homemade and DIY face coverings. A search for masks on Amazon brought up more than 90,000 results with 70,000 items available through Prime.Dr. Robert Lahita, director of the Institute for Autoimmune and Rheumatic Disease at St. Joseph’s Health in Paterson, New Jersey, told USA TODAY that more people are wearing masks due to fear of the highly transmissible delta variant.“The people I am seeing who are the most afraid of contracting this variant are actually those who have already gotten vaccinated. They are very conscious of the danger,” said Lahita, whose new book, Immunity Strong, is coming out this October. “However, the ones who aren’t vaccinated seem to be more oblivious to the present dangers.”Lahita thinks it is possible there will be a mask shortage if people buy masks in bulk and hoard them.“The average person needs a box of disposable ones if they can get them, but if not, then cloth can be used,” he said. “It’s important that we have supplies available for everyone as we enter the fall and winter months.”►Delta variant: How social media is helping us mourn the loss of our ‘fall plans’►Save better, spend better:  Money tips and advice delivered right to your inbox. Sign up hereContributing: Eve Chen, Terry Collins and Bailey Schulz, USA TODAY; Associated PressFollow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko. For shopping news, tips and deals, join us on our Shopping Ninjas Facebook group. 


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