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Pharmacies watch mask supply as Alabama statewide mandate prepares to go into effect

The mask ordinance goes into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday.

Posted: Jul 15, 2020 10:56 PM
Updated: Jul 16, 2020 7:06 AM

Whether people are looking for personality in their masks or just functionality, face coverings are becoming the norm in life these days.

Decatur resident John Widner said he was happy to hear Alabama Governor Kay Ivey put a statewide mandate into place on Wednesday. He hopes it will show positive results, similar to what places like New York City witnessed after their mandate went into place.

Masks for sale at Pharmacy First in Huntsville. Masks for sale at Pharmacy First in Huntsville.

"I'm hopeful we see that here, especially in the surrounding states where cases have also been picking up, that maybe we can start to isolate ourselves from that a little bit," Widner said.

But with more people going out to get masks, places like pharmacies are keeping a close eye on their suppliers. Sam Wheeler, a pharmacy technician with Pharmacy First in Huntsville said they're managing well with their supply so far.

"There's definitely been a shortage from time to time of getting masks. We use two different wholesalers and at different times, they've both run out completely. But as of right now, the stock is pretty good," Wheeler said.

However, for communities that haven't had a mask mandate so far, like Florence, stores are planning for a surge in mask purchases.

Jeff Lawson is the owner of Milner Rushing Drugs pharmacies in the Shoals. He said they ordered double their normal amount of masks following the governor's announcement on Wednesday.

"We have definitely seen a pick up in the amount of masks that we're selling lately," Lawson said.

He said that with the increased demand for masks, there is a chance they could run out at some point.

"Just knowing what our suppliers have and what we anticipate needing, hopefully they pick up their supply as well," Lawson said.

However, across north Alabama in Guntersville, Buddy Bunch said he doesn't anticipate another mask shortage any time soon. He said he regularly receives faxes about people wanting to sell masks to his pharmacy.

"If there's any indication by the number of folks who are trying to sell them out there, then there should be plenty for people to be able to purchase," Bunch said.

Back in Huntsville, Widner hopes that people don't hoard masks like they did with other supplies during this pandemic. He also hopes that the state will see positive effects soon.

"Hopefully it puts us on a better track just in the future, especially as the schools plan to start up, and we do what we can to reduce the impact going forward. It's better late than never," Widner said.

The mask ordinance goes into effect at 5 p.m. Thursday.

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