Fears about the novel coronavirus have made it almost impossible to find face masks and hand sanitizer in warehouse shops, grocery stores, and online. But a new pop-up shop at 1002B Florida Avenue, Northeast, has those items in stock.
Adilisha Patrom, owner of the Suites DC, a co-working and event space, started stockpiling masks as far back as last December, after her dad was diagnosed with cancer. After doctors educated Patrom about the different mask types, she began buying several N95 masks to keep handy for her father, who has a weakened immune system. When the coronavirus outbreak began, she started thinking about ways she could help others by making masks more readily available in the community. So she started doing research.
The cost of masks at the Trinidad pop-up ranges from $5 to $30. Standard surgical masks are cheaper, while the N95 masks are more on the expensive side. The shop typically offers discounts to those who are at high risk of the virus, though, such as older customers. “Protective kits” filled with masks, Lysol spray, hand sanitizer and other supplies are also for sale, starting at $20.
It’s important to note that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that healthy people should not use surgical masks or N95 respirators (which cover more of one’s face and filter out at least 95 percent of airborne particles). It recommends everyday protection measures instead, like washing your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds, refraining from touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and disinfecting surfaces you touch frequently.
Patrom says she stocked up after studying what was most in need in China. A distributor in New York provided her with 2,000 surgical masks, and she ordered a large supply of other products online from Dollar Tree. “If you go on Amazon, they’re so expensive, if you go to CVS they’re sold out. So what other resources do people have?” she says.
The shop didn’t sell any masks on Wednesday, and for the most part business has been pretty slow. Patrom says that’s fine. It means people are getting the information they need to better understand what’s going on around them and make educated decisions, she says.
“Right now, people aren’t really freaking out which is good, but a lot of people are wanting information,” Patrom says. She’s printed out sheets of information from the CDC with facts about the virus so that people can stay informed.
“I feel like I’m giving more because I have it,” Patrom says. “I’d rather have than not have so I have something to give.”