Demand for N95, KN95 masks is up; BBB sends warning about price gouging

washtenaw county mask event
Posted at 10:19 PM, Jan 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-13 23:18:53-05

YPSILANTI, Mich. (WXYZ) — Traffic was backed up as people waited in line for a free pack of 10 KN95 face masks.

"There were cars coming from all different directions around the health department," Lauren Slagter said.

Slagter who lives in Ypsilanti was one of the last people to snag a pack before the health department ran out.

“I’ve just been hearing a lot of recommendations that it is important to have the N95 or KN95 with the new variant," she said.

Doctors suggest wearing upgraded masks as omicron spread continues

Leaders with the Washtenaw County Health Department say Thursday's turnout proves there is a serious demand.

“There is a lot of demand right now for folks who have difficulty buying them or getting out and getting them," Susan Ringler Cerniglia with the health department said.

They were able to give out 12,000 adult size masks, but many people were turned away after running out right before 5 p.m.

“Certainly, when there is a line for something, and we don’t have enough to make it to the end of the line, that can be difficult and frustrating," Ringler Cerniglia said.

As people hunt for these tighter masks that doctors are now recommending, the Better Business Bureau wants you to be aware.

“Anytime something like this pops up, scams increase," Laura Blankenship, the chief of staff and marketing director with the BBB, said.

Blankenship says do your research on the mask you are looking to buy and read customer reviews.

She says keep your eye out for price gouging, which is illegal in the state of Michigan.

“Fifteen percent higher than what the price would normally be is considered price gouging," she said.

After doing some digging 7 Action News noticed prices are going up.

Just last month before Christmas, a pack of 50 KN95 masks were $26.99. On Thursday, the same pack is $78.99

Leaders with the BBB say if you witness price gouging, file a complaint so they can look into it.

“When there is a high demand for an item, sometimes prices do need to increase, but when it’s increasing over 15%, that’s when they are looking at whether or not its price gouging," Blankenship said.

Slagter says, “Seeing the demand, I’m questioning do other people who possibly need this more than I did. I hope that everyone who does have a need gets access to the mask."

The Washtenaw County Health Department will host another masks give away on Saturday, Jan. 15 at 705 N. Zeeb in Ann Arbor starting at 10 a.m.

For more info on the giveaway, visit the health department’s website.

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