LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The worries over the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has sicked thousands of people worldwide, has put a high demand on medical-grade face masks in Las Vegas.
"We have sold more boxes of masks in the last four days than we have probably in the last four years," said Jeff Kelemen, owner of Everything Medical, a medical supply store in Las Vegas.
Kelemen says his store near Charleston and Interstate 15 has sold 5,000 boxes, or 250,000, medical-grade face masks as of Thursday.
Kelemen says many of the sales came from tourists who were sending the boxes of masks to Asia.
"Now, as demand has risen and supplies have fallen, we're getting hotels, local agencies, airports, that are actually contacting us because there is nothing out there," said Kelemen.
Kelemen has 3,000 boxes of face masks on order but says the demand has spiked, and shipments could be slowed.
Kelemen said he has seen past pandemics cause panics, but the coronavirus is different.
"The fear was there, the immediacy of this one is the worst I've seen," said Kelemen.
"Just the amount of fear that has spread, especially as we've gotten cases in the US," added Kelemen.
The most current update from the World Health Organization indicates there have been 213 deaths attributed to the Novel Coronavirus as of Jan. 30.
There are 9,800 confirmed cases worldwide in 18 countries, including the United States.
According to the US State Department, China has suspended air, road, and rail to Wuhan China and limiting travel to slow the spread of the virus.
News reports show Macau, the Las Vegas equivalent in Asia, has experienced as much as an 80 percent decline in visitation from mainland Chinese tourists.
"It is very significant, imagine Las Vegas lost 80 percent of their visitors, we would suffer tremendously, so unless or until the virus gets under control, you can expect the Macau business to suffer substantially," said KTNV financial analyst Steve Budin.
Budin says local gaming companies, notably Las Vegas Sands Corp., and Wynn rely on revenue from Macau.
Gaming stocks have taken a beating since the Coronavirus outbreak, and Budin says the trend may continue.