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Sanitizer shortage hurting people with impaired immune systems

Despite restrictions on sanitizer and hand soap, shelves are empty at stores across the Houston area.

HOUSTON — As people rush to buy hand sanitizer and Clorox wipes amid COVID-19 fears, Kroger, on Tuesday, joined the list of stores restricting the number of items customers can purchase.

Earlier this week, H-E-B announced it was limiting customers to four bottles of hand sanitizer and four bottles of hand soap.

Despite the restrictions, shelves remain empty at stores across the Houston area.

People like Jeff Lake are struggling to find the sanitation supplies they need.

Lake underwent a liver transplant four years ago.

Because he’s on immunosuppressants, he has to wash and sanitize his hands constantly.

“I believe people are hoarding the stuff that they may have never used, and probably should have been using all along, anyway. Now, they’re buying big amounts and people who really need it to get through life can’t get it,” Lake said.

Lake is a manager with West Houston Assistance Ministries.

Doctors said washing your hands with soap is the best defense against germs.

However, if you want hand sanitizer, you can also make your own.

Dr. Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease specialist with UTHealth School of Public Health, suggests mixing 1/3 cup of aloe vera gel and 2/3 cup of rubbing alcohol to make your own sanitizer.

“There’s some question about how long it lasts, how stable it is. I would recommend making a week’s worth, then making up a fresh batch after a week,” Troisi said.

Lake bought supplies to make his own hand sanitizer.

What he’s concerned about is the flu, not the Wuhan coronavirus.

“I’m not that concerned about the virus. I’m very well aware of it. We all are. What bothers me is the fact that things I use on a daily basis are now hard to get or unavailable,” he said. “If I get sick, it’s a major thing. It could lead to death.”

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