EDINBURG, Texas — Fear of the coronavirus is gripping many in the Rio Grande Valley. Some residents are preparing for the worst. Surgical masks are flying off the shelves across Valley stores, and pharmacists say it may be a while until they can restock. If you travel, some masks will not protect you from the virus.
Surgical masks are selling out quickly at major retailers and local pharmacies in the midst of this outbreak.
“Right now we’re actually having a hard time getting them from our wholesalers because everything is on backorder,” said Cesna Yap with Saenz Pharmacy.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) there are 81,200 confirmed cases worldwide. That is causing surgical masks to fly off shelves. Cesna Yap says there are some that won’t protect you when traveling.
“There’s the normal surgical mask that you normally see at the doctor’s office where it’ll mainly just cover your nose and your face and your mouth and then it goes through the ears. The rectangular ones, those are more lose fitting and so they’ll only protect you from large particles.”
Yap adds that the N-95 masks are highly recommended for those wishing to use masks at airports.
“Those are more tight-fitting so you get an actual seal between the mask and your face so that’s how it works because it blocks about 95% of particles.”
Hidalgo County’s Chief Administrative Officer Eddie Olivarez says the virus does not pose a threat to the Valley as of now.
“There are no confirmed cases in Texas. None. There are no confirmed cases in northern Mexico. We’ve been in contact with La Secretaria de Salud in Mexico. We do have 57 cases in the United States, some of them were located here but they were travelers.”
Olivarez adds there are no direct flights from or to China coming out of any local airports, making the risk for the virus minimal.
“Four of the seven coronaviruses are common colds. Have we had coronavirus in Hidalgo County in the past? Yes, as a common cold.” said Olivarez.
As a precaution, the McAllen Economic Development Corporation officials have canceled their trip to China next month.
Hidalgo County has set up a call center for residents with more questions regarding the virus. That number is 956-383-6221.