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Supply vs. Demand: How coronavirus impacts supply of personal hygiene products

A UNF business professor estimates that increased demand for goods like hand sanitizer, tissues and disinfecting wipes may lead to companies increasing production.

At local grocery stores like Terry’s Country Store, they are not seeing an alarming demand for products like face masks, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes or tissues.

These are just a few items that people are stocking up on amid rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

Nathan Kunz, an operations management professor at UNF has seen similar trends in supply versus demand.

“You see this with hurricane preparations," Kunz said, "people go to the store and buy hundreds of water bottles, far more than what they would drink."

Kunz’s advice to consumers: “Buy what you need.”

That’s the same tip being offered by healthcare professionals. The spike in buying facemasks led the U.S. Surgeon General to tell people who are healthy to stop buying them.

“We really need to conserve those resources as a nation to ensure healthcare providers can take care of patients,” Dr. Chad Neilsen at UF Health said.

Dr. Neilsen says his hospital does not have immediate shortages but they have plans in place to get more supplies if needed.

Kunz says buying in bulk can cause a ripple effect for the entire supply chain.

“What happens is that stores will see an additional increase in demand, they’ll order more to get some of it, the distributor does the same, you have an inflation of orders at the end of the day,” Kunz said.

The FDA says that some measures are being taken to allow wider access to facemasks for healthcare professionals.