Schools close, local pharmacies sell out of face masks as fears for flu and coronavirus grow

WATERTOWN, Wis. — Two Watertown Catholic schools are closing for two days because so many of their students have the flu. At the same time, local pharmacies are sold out of face masks as people try to protect themselves from getting sick.

Twenty-two percent of students were not at St. Bernard and St. Henry schools Monday.

Influenza and respiratory syncytial virus are making the rounds, all while coronavirus cases continue to rise.

“Everyday we’re getting patients coming in (saying), ‘Do you have any face masks?'” said Alex Weisenberger, a pharmacy technician at Community Pharmacy in downtown Madison.

He said last week after a rush of people bought all the face masks in the store, he tried to order more, but there were none available.

“There’s constantly drugs that become not available because of higher demand, recalls, but I’ve never seen this for face masks,” said Weisenberger.

Community Pharmacy orders face masks through one of the biggest pharmaceutical providers in the U.S. called McKesson. Weisenberger said McKesson is out of stock, and so are other companies.

He said McKesson’s distribution center in Chicago can’t fill orders, right after the city had a confirmed cases of coronavirus.

“That’s probably due to why we can’t get any, and a lot of pharmacies in the area also use McKesson,” said Weisenberger.

Neuhauser Pharmacy and local Walgreens are also sold out. Pharmacists aren’t sure when they’ll be able to order more.

“We can’t even supply ourselves, our own staff with a face mask. We just can not get them from anywhere,” said Weisenberger.