Colorado construction workers can't find masks amid coronavirus panic

Workers forced to go without protective gear
Posted at 4:14 PM, Mar 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-04 20:38:27-05

LITTLETON, Colo. -- A concrete saw whirs and churns up a cloud of thick dust but none of the workers at the site are wearing protective masks. They're wearing earplugs and goggles, but they aren't wearing masks because no one can find them at store across the Front Range.

"It’s really tough to do these jobs and not have masks to do it," said Scott Baker, a Superintendent for Andraos Construction.

Baker said that his company provides the necessary safety equipment for employees but he started running into trouble when he sent someone to stock up on masks last week. He heard there might be a shortage on the news and by the time he went to the store, it was already too late.

"I actually had a guy go to the Home Depot and Lowe’s out in Arvada and he said they were completely wiped out and we went to an Ace Hardware close by and they were wiped out, too," said Baker.

Since then, he's tried numerous stores with the same disappointing result. He even tried to order the masks online but said retailers are out of stock and it was unclear when the masks would be available again.

Baker said one of the store employees told him they were out and added that a customer shared he was selling the masks online.

That's what makes Baker so upset; he worries people who don't need the masks are stockpiling them or just trying to make money off coronavirus fears.

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"I just wanted other people to be aware that there’s other people that need to use them every day," said Baker.

The U.S. Surgeon General tweeted out a message urging people to stop buying masks. He said the masks "are not effective in preventing the general public from catching coronavirus but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk."

There are currently zero confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Colorado, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.


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