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Seller Spike: Cost Of Surgical Masks Surges Amid Coronavirus Fears

NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) - The costs of surgical masks are surging as fears deepen over the spread of coronavirus.

On Amazon, various sellers marked up masks after the CDC warned of a potential pandemic.

A set of 15 "respirator" masks costs $429. Respirator masks provide a closer facial fit and claim to filter out more particles than the average dust mask.

But according to the tracking app, Keepa, the cost of this same product more than doubled overnight.

The company claimed to be based in the U.S., but told CBS 11 News the product was shipping from Israel.

Even basic surgical masks saw a price hike.

Earlier this month, a batch of 100 masks cost $19.90, according to Keepa. Today, that same order cost $137, which is a price increase of 588%.

Other shoppers may have noticed increases in shipping costs.

One shopper posted her Amazon order details on Facebook. It cost $369.98 to ship an $11 item.

Amazon spokeswoman Cecilia Fan released the following statement: "Sellers set their own product prices in our store and we have policies to help ensure sellers are pricing products competitively. We actively monitor our store and remove offers that violate our policies."

When asked, Fan did not immediately respond to the number of offers Amazon has removed in the past week.

This week a CBS11 viewer snapped a picture of dust masks on sale at the 7-Eleven store inside DFW Airport.


While the product was originally priced at $1.99, the photo clearly shows a new price tag of $6.99.

"While franchisees are independent contractors and as such set the prices in their stores, 7-Eleven has contacted the franchisee that operates this store to address this issue. The franchisee has informed us that the price of this product has been corrected and is now $1.99," a spokesperson for 7-Eleven, Inc. wrote in a statement to CBS11. "7-Eleven and its franchisees value the customers they serve and strive to meet their needs."

But it's possible the face masks may not even help prevent the spread of the disease.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does not recommend face masks for the general public.

Even so, the agency still decided to release a guide on what beards work best with face pieces.


The idea is that facial hair could interfere with masks and respirators.

Styles like mutton chops and full beards are not recommended, while the CDC claims side whiskers and handlebar mustaches could work.

The Better Business Bureau is also warning customers to avoid coronavirus scams related to masks:

-Be wary of product claims that state a certain item can stop the spread of disease. Instead, consumers should repeatedly wash their hands and avoid touching their face.
-Only buy products from reputable stores and websites.
-If shopping online, check the seller information for contact information.

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