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Hand sanitizer, masks and cleaning supplies clearing shelves across Tampa Bay stores due to coronavirus

Posted at 5:37 PM, Mar 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 06:15:55-05

LAKELAND, Fla. — Worry seems to be spreading faster than COVID-19 itself as store shelves across the Tampa Bay area are clearing out.

Many health-aid aisles and pharmacy sections were found empty when it comes to hand sanitizer, masks and other cleaning supplies.

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“It’s kind of scary for everybody,” said Sydney Bailey.

Bailey said the fear of the unknown is causing her to stock up on hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes.

ABC Action News physically checked Target, Walgreens and Dollar Tree on Tuesday to find more empty shelves. If stores weren’t completely out of hand sanitizer, they were dangerously low on the product like the Dollar Tree in Lakeland.

“If I get it, what is going to happen to me? I’m just trying to do my best,” James Thomas said.

He too was unable to find large bottles of hand sanitizer. Instead, Dollar Tree had about a dozen boxes of hand-held sanitizer left on the shelves.


“You gotta take what they give you,” Thomas added.

“The stuff that we need is scarce now. We don’t have enough wipes or hand sanitizer and everyone is looking to get it.” Bailey said.

So what happens if you can’t find hand sanitizer or an equivalent?

Many DIY videos are popping up online showing you how to make hand sanitizer at home. Videos say to use Aloe Vera and a strong rubbing alcohol.

But Health Experts, like the World Health Organization (WHO), says it won’t be as effective.

Professional doses include many different ingredients like ethanol, hydrogen peroxide, glycerol, distilled or boiled water.

WHO recommends that if you are attempting to make your own at-home sanitizer to use a specified amount of ethanol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide. Or you can use Isopropyl alcohol, glycerol and hydrogen peroxide.

However, if it’s not completed correctly, it may be ineffective.

You can find the exact instructions here.

ABC Action News also checked in with many Tampa Bay area stores to see how they plan to keep up with demand. CVS, Home Depot and Target got back to us ensuring they are monitoring the situation and restocking shelves as quickly as possible.

We are working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for hand sanitizers and masks.  This demand may cause temporary shortages for these products at some store locations and we re-supply those stores as quickly as possible. We are not experiencing any significant shortage of gloves, disinfectant wipes or sprays at this time.
CVS spokesperson
In the U.S., we’re seeing increased demand for face masks and have limited purchase quantity to 10 per person to best serve as many customers as possible. We’re also seeing increased demand for cleaning supplies. Our merchandising and supply chain teams are working hard to replenish these items as quickly as possible.
Home Depot spokesperson
Over the last few days, as obviously everyone’s been reporting, we’ve certainly seen a U.S. consumer that’s starting to stock up on household essentials, disinfectants, food and beverage items – all those staple items that the CDC has recommended guest add to their pantry. And certainly we’ve seen aggressive shopping across the country in our stores. So, we’re working closely with our domestic vendors, with our partners to make sure that we’re elevating inventory in preparation for what we think is going to be a continued demand for stock-up items. We’re seeing that across our network, expect it to continue over the next few weeks and we’ll watch it carefully over time.
Target CEO Brain Cornell