Amazon has announced that it’s halting the sale of N95 masks to the general public and will instead reserve its stocks for health care workers only. The company has also noted that it will be selling both masks and hand sanitizers to healthcare workers for no profit at all.
The US has been grappling with the scourge of COVID-19 over the last few weeks. At the time of writing this article, over 400,000 cases have been reported and over 15,000 deaths. Even though there has been a national effort at the state and federal level to mobilize resources needed to fight the virus, most frontline healthcare workers have found themselves short.
Hospitals in some of the hardest-hit states like New York are already overwhelmed as governors call on federal intervention to solve the issue.
Some of the key things in short supply are the medical-grade masks needed to protect front line healthcare workers battling this pandemic. There are reports that all the masks produced in the US are sold through private distributors who are selling to international clients too.
We have also seen many states bidding against each other for the masks, something that has pushed the price very high. The CDC recently issued new directives to the public urging everyone leaving their household to wear a mask as part of protective measures to prevent the spread of the virus.
As a result, both public and hospital demand for these masks have been rising. Amazon is, however, stepping up to make sure that the masks go where they are needed the most.
After all, the CDC did note that any form of fabric-based cover, including a homemade mask, should work for the general public. Amazon has also launched a new section in its giant e-commerce website that will be fully dedicated towards the sale of COVID-19 related items. Hospitals in the affected states will just need to fill in a simple form to gain access to these supplies.
In addition to the N95 masks, a spokesperson from the e-commerce giant is also restricting the sale of COVID-19 testing kits to the general public.
The spokesperson added that Amazon is assessing various product categories available on its website. The company may decide to also limit the sale of more supplies if it deems them necessary for the ongoing fight against the virus.
The e-commerce giant is mobilizing third-party sellers on its platform to join this effort. The primary purpose right now is to make sure that all the products that healthcare workers need are stocked up and supplied to them as fast as possible.
All third-party sellers who want to join this effort will, however, be vetted by Amazon before they are allowed in. The next two weeks are expected to be the worst in the US as far as the COVID-19 virus goes and many corporations like Amazon are doing their part to help.