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Coronavirus fears result in empty medicine, sanitary shelves across stores in the Front Range

Posted at 6:12 PM, Mar 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-02 20:53:13-05

DENVER — When shopping at big box stores, it's easy to think the items you're looking for will be available to you, but that hasn't been the case as people prepare for the potential spread of coronavirus here in Colorado.

Chuck Conner went to a local Glendale Target with his wife and said he was shocked when he walked down the medicine aisle.

"I was looking for cortisone but when I came across the aisle, I was sort of taken back by the empty shelving because I was right by the aspirin and everything else. It was incredible," Conner said.

But Target is not alone. Other stores, like Costco, were completely out of paper towels. And at a Denver Safeway, not all cough and flu medicines were available.

MORE: Tips on how to prevent catching, spreading coronavirus

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the country, Conner said all people can do is prepare, even though no cases of the virus have been confirmed in Colorado.

"It’s very scary because you don’t know what’s going to happen," said Conner. "I mean, it’s all around... but when is it going to hit us?"

Surgeon general urges Americans to 'stop buying masks' for coronavirus

The U.S. Surgeon General on Monday urged Americans across the country to stop buying face masks and warned that their use could do more harm than good by increasing the risk of contracting the virus, as people who do not know how to properly wear them tend to touch their face more often than not, which could help the spread of the virus.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also said face masks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. Officials say the use of face masks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings, like at home or in a health care facility.

Colorado no longer dependent on CDC for coronavirus tests

In a statement Monday, the Colorado Department of Public Health announced it now has the capability of testing up to 160 samples per day for novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on its own and receiving results back within 24 hours.

The CDPHE’s State Laboratory’s ability to do the tests on its own allows the state to respond faster to possible cases of the virus, state health officials said. All previous testing had to be done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado currently, though more tests are underway, according to the CDPHE. Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said at a news conference Monday afternoon that 23 people had been tested for the virus in Colorado and that all tests came back negative. He said nine tests were still pending.

It's worth noting the test will not be available to the general public – only for people who meet criteria of being symptomatic for the virus.

The number of people killed by the coronavirus worldwide is now more than 3,000, with the number of infected topping 89,000 in over 70 countries, according to the Associated Press.