Coronavirus: Inland Empire stores short of supplies as customers stock up

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (KABC) -- It wasn't Black Friday at a busy Costco in Hawaii on Friday, but it may have been hard to tell with the long lines there. Customers were stocking up in case of a shortage due to the coronavirus.

ABC7 checked out several stores here in the Inland Empire, including Vons, Ralphs, Stater Brothers, CVS and Walgreens.

Not surprisingly, everywhere ABC7 went, the shelves where hand sanitizers and masks usually can be found were empty.

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But how essential are these items in the first place?

"Basically you'll get as much mileage from a bar of soap as you will out of a bottle of Purell," said Dr. Cameron Kaiser with Riverside County Public Health.

Dr. Kaiser said hand sanitzer is great, but he just washes his hands.

"I mean hand sanitizer is certainly useful, we use it all the time in medical settings, but a good hand washing is going to serve you nearly just as well."

A pharmacist we spoke with off camera on Monday told us much of the items are being bought locally and then shipped to family members in China.

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While there were reports of other items being in short supply, like cleaning wipes, bottled water and even rice, we didn't come across any significant shortages of those items ourselves.

CVS sent ABC7 a statement saying:

"We are working with our suppliers to meet customer demand for hand sanitizers and masks. This demand may cause temporary shortages of certain products at some store locations and we are re-supplying those stores as quickly as possible."
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