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High Demand For N95 Masks Depletes Stock At Bay Area Stores

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- In wake of the poor air quality caused by the smoke from the Camp Fire, people around the Bay Area have been seen wearing masks to protect themselves from the bad air.

But some say they're having trouble purchasing these protective masks because everyone else has been buying them.

Outside Fredericksen Hardware and Paint on Fillmore St., there was a sign reading, "Sorry, no air purifiers, no masks. Maybe Monday."

Store employees said the masks are in such high demand that when they restock them, they'll be behind the counter and customers will likely be limited to the number of masks they can buy.

It's the same story at Nob Hill Hardware; the store is completely sold out of the N95 masks. But it did have P100 respirators on its shelves for $59, which provide more respiratory protection than the N95 masks.

"Our hardware store ran out… they ran out. The fire department ran out. It's crazy," said , San Francisco residents Cindy and David Cole.

Another day of unhealthy air quality also forced tourists visiting San Francisco to change their plans.

"I thought we would walk around and hit up the different parks and relax and enjoy a bit of better weather than Seattle. And then, getting down here, it was staying inside our hotel. And now we are trying to find alternative things to do," said Adrian Bussey.

San Francisco locals tried to make the best of the situation.

"This past weekend, Friday and Saturday, we've been stuck inside. Today, we have these wonderful tickets to go to the Giants' AT&T Park for some fun Top Golf. So we wanted to take advantage while we could. I didn't want the smoke to stop us," said Sharon Leung.

The smoke has brought more people to urgent care clinics across the city. Carbon Health on Market St. said patients who don't have asthma have been complaining about chest pain, shortness of breath and migraines.

By Friday, San Francisco's Homeless Outreach Team handed out 1,400 masks. On Sunday evening, the city opened its doors to 60 homeless people at its winter shelter inside the Saint Boniface Church.

"This is our 30th year doing the winter shelter between the SF Interfaith Coalition and ECS, and it's especially important this year, opening now with all the air quality issues that we are seeing," said Randy Quezada of the Department of Homelessness & Supportive Housing.

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