Store Shelves Bare? Online Retailers Keep Stock Ready to Carry the COVID-19 Retail Burden

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Household Medical Items Still Available During COVID-19 Pandemic

ALL DEAD LINKS REMOVED 03/29/2020 at 3:30 PM

March 21, 2020

W. Paul Alexander

Work at Home Pros Blog

 (Simultaneously published by author W. Paul Alexander on multiple blogs owned by him, including his personal (bettercallpaul) and publish0X (bettercallpaul) blogs as well as other outlets with permission and credit)


Unless you have been living under a rock and are completely disconnected from external media, you have already been impacted in your professional and personal life.

COVID-19, the disease caused by the new (“novel”) coronavirus, is a nasty disease. Especially lethal to the elderly, chest x-rays of people with the disease are similar to a starburst, as if the disease literally exploded in their lung.  This is because the virus attacks the alveoli in the lungs, which are the tiny air sacs that make breathing possible.

The immediate signs of the disease resemble the common cold, which is also a coronavirus (called a “rhinovirus”); and this makes it especially dangerous, as it is almost certain that there are many more unconfirmed cases that continue to be unreported because the patient carriers do not feel sick enough to go to the hospital, leading to undiagnosed cases as well as a perfect vehicle for infecting others.

If you are living anywhere where infections are occurring, you’ve already likely been to large store like Walmart looking for some necessities. Upon arriving, you were likely met with similar scenarios as are depicted in the picture below – bare shelves and no medical supplies.

Across the United States, millions and millions of workers are now converting to telecommuting/remote-working roles, and there is quite a bit of confusion surrounding the proper method to convert to a home worker as seamlessly as possible. Having been a freelancer for the last decade, I have decided it would help other in this situation to better prepare and make the transition to share my experiences working from home, so a new site, Work At Home Pros. Currently under construction, all you will see now (March 21) is a Wordpress parking page indicating that the new page is coming, but in the next few days, I will begin to produce content and publish it so that so many people will be helped as possible. If you receive the landing page when you visit, check back on Monday, March 23, which is the day we will go live.

In the meantime, I thought it was prudent to share my experiences with attempting to find supplies in my local community, and then contrast that with supplies still available online.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to find a 50-pack of vinyl gloves, but so many other necessities are running out their supply by nervous shoppers who are panic buying and preparation for the potential of self-isolation.

Whatever the cause, it’s clear that this pandemic is going to stretch the world to its absolute limits. Here are a few of the sights I encountered during my trip to Walmart (Image credits to the author, personal work)

  The paper products aisle at Walmart in Jacksonville, Florida on March 18, 2020

Bread and Long Shelf Life Snacks – about empty

 These aisles are going bare within an hour after being restocked. People are preparing as though this is going to be the end of the world. I don’t think this is the case, but I do agree with getting prepared.

Just remember your fellow human beings when you decide to fill a cart to the brim with emergency supplies.

If you have experienced such a scenario, it is almost certain that you have no idea where you are going to turn to protect your family.

However, we are lucky to have online retailers who have spent years and years building stockpiles of supplies preparing for “the end of the world as we know it,” aka “SHTF – shit hitting the fan.”   These retailers and those who have spent years of their lives preparing for impending disaster are already becoming some of the unsung heroes of the coronavirus pandemic.

Amazon has done an excellent job building a community of sellers and retailers that carry everything you can imagine to prepare for catastrophic events, and while some shipments may be delayed a couple of days, it is still your best bet to find what you need during this.

So, without further ado, here are some of the most in-demand personal protection items still available without super-long delays

1.       Masks with N95 Respirator Filters

If you’ve not worked in healthcare or construction, you likely just started hearing the term “N95” on the news a few days ago. These are the masks that provide an airtight fit around the mouth and nose and generally have rubber straps that help secure this airtight seal. They are designed for people that work in areas where there may be hazardous particulate in the air, and filter greater than 95% of all particles in the air. These are the masks that have people have been having the most trouble finding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite shortages announced in the media, online retail seems to still have supplies of N95 masks, so get them while you still can.

2.      Surgical Masks

These are the masks we are most familiar with – the ones worn in hospitals, doctor’s offices, dentist offices, and blood collection sites worldwide.  Shortage of hospital stockpiles during the COVID-19 pandemic has had some places resorting to sewing mask covers together so that surgical masks could be used 2-3 times before having to be discarded. However, manufacturers still have supplies, and while it may take a couple of extra days, delivery is still pretty much on-time.

3.       Alternative Mask Options

These can be different colors, and tend to be designed to be a bit more “stylish” than surgical or construction masks. They are commonly worn by people riding motorcycles who wish to keep particulate matter from going down their throat while riding. They have the benefit of usually being coated with activated charcoal, and they also have square N95 filter pads that you place into inserts on the masks. These are amazing alternatives for people looking to protect themselves from airborne particles and virus matter during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Filters for these masks can be found here: MASK N95 FILTER PADS:

4.      Emergency Food and Rations

Traditional stores of emergency food are getting harder and harder to find as the pandemic evolves. What’s left is usually a mix of long-shelf life, calorie-dense nutritional bars, trail mix, and other portable food sources. The pack linked above will get you a box of goodies that can store very well.  Of course, if you decide that this doesn’t float your boat, feel free to search for another emergency food option from the Amazon search bar. Stock is changing all the time, so better option may be available by the time you read this.

Protein bars, tree nuts and legumes, and beef jerky are also relatively healthy, calorie and protein-dense energy foods that can be easily transported in times of emergency or food shortage, and can sustain you for quite some time.  The same can even be said about foods we would consider less healthy in normal circumstances, such as candy bars and Pop-Tarts, when calories are scarce in an emergency, so remember to look outside the box as you prepare your emergency food stores.

5.       Immune Boosting Vitamins and Herbal Supplements

In these trying times, and with no vaccine or cure in sight, social distancing and alternative herbal medications are being promoted as very effective ways to fight the novel coronavirus pandemic. While not guaranteed to cure you or keep you from getting sick, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that those taking certain supplements traditionally used for immune support, like vitamin C, or the Echinacea supplied by supplements like the one linked above. Again, there are a number of different herbs, vitamins, minerals, and other supplements (such as amino acids) that have either traditionally been used for or clinical evidence has shown a positive effect on those using them, with many claiming to get sick less often and less severely than prior to supplementing.

Here is another great immune-boosting supplement that is still in stock on Amazon:

Make sure to do your own research and at least consult with your doctor before starting any new supplement. While the vast majority of supplements will not cause adverse effects, interactions between some conditions, medications, and herbal supplements can be deadly. Taken properly, during these unsettling times where the headlines seem to be more akin to an episode of The Walking Dead than to reality, vitamins and supplements seem to be a well relied-upon augmentation and auxiliary tool to keep close by.

6.      Gloves; Latex, Nitrile, or Vinyl

One of the most essential of all personal protection items in times of disease or when coming into contact with hazardous material, gloves are getting harder and harder to find on store shelves. I traveled to Walmart for three separate days and ended up finding one box of 50 vinyl gloves, which I purchased.

I was pleased to find that a few large suppliers are still offering gloves for shipment. This does seem to be slowly dwindling, so if you want them, I’d go ahead and get them now rather than later. Without gloves, much of your other precautions will either be rendered moot or will be drastically reduced in effectiveness.

If you end up unable to find medical gloves, you can also buy a pair of leather gloves or tactical gloves, such as these . They will at least provide a barrier between the outside environment and the surface of your skin.

7.      Balaclava or Ski Masks

While it may seem like overkill, a balaclava – which is a hood that generally covers the nose, mouth, and head, leaving only the eyes. They are often worn in extreme conditions to protect large amounts of the face and head from exposure. Ski masks work in a similar manner, but are usually made with a large and thick knit, while balaclavas are generally made from Lycra or fleece.

As supplies of medical, surgical, and construction masks and respirators continue to be depleted in record times, a thin balaclava would be a rational choice for protecting the mouth, nose, and skin from being exposed to infectious matter.  Movies involving society after global pandemics have featured the balaclava as a newly-adopted everyday dress item amid a global paranoia of future pandemics. Now, I’m not suggesting anything like that occur at this tick in the timeline of the COVID-19 pandemic, but if you feel the need for added protection, why not stock up now?

8.      Water sanitation equipment

As local, state, and federal resources become more and more thinly spread out to fight the coronavirus outbreak, the reliability of the delivery of electricity and potable water becomes a bit shaky.

You can survive for quite some time without food, but without water, death can occur in as little as 72 hours.

Why not make sure that you can get a fresh drink of water from any water source, no matter how polluted?  These devices, similar to the LifeStraw;  or LifeStraw Filter Bottle (found here), will ensure that you always have access to your body’s most important need.

9.      Electricity Generators

When it comes to keeping the lights on in the middle of a power outage, only a generator will do.  When it comes to a generator, there are two types:  gasoline powered, which are generally cheaper buy only allow you to keep a limited number of devices and appliances powered, and whole-house generators which are permanently installed generators that store energy for emergency use and are seamlessly triggered on when an outage occurs.  The most common whole-house generator is made by Generac, which can be found on Amazon along with their gas-powered cousins. 

If you have the resources to afford it, buying a generator is one of the greatest investments you can make to ensure that life remains as close to normal as possible, even if the power company falters.

The type of generator that you buy should depend upon your needs and your expectations in times of crisis.  Having a gas-powered generator means that you can keep the lights on, have the ability to keep your cell phones and other devices charged, and run life-saving medical equipment, such as nebulizers and CPAP machines.

Alternatively, if you want a generator that offers whole-house electricity generation, so that you can keep everything on during major power outages, you can buy a whole-house generator, such as the Generac.  These are top-of-the-line generators that will allow you to keep your Wi-Fi, television, oven, stove, and anything else you would normally run in your house.  These are still in stock and can be delivered and installed on the side of your house, similar to how the outside portion of central air conditioning equipment looks.  

Buy a Generac Here  

Like other items, delivery is a bit behind schedule because of the shift in focus to filing the need for necessary items at places prone to an outbreak cluster, such as in a medical facility that treats patients of any kind, as well as anyone that will be spending time around someone who has COVID-19. However, at this time, you can still end up with a generator at your doorstep in about a week and a half at the time of publishing this post (03/21/2020 at 8:07 PM EST)


Much of society has been overwhelmed by the speed with which the novel coronavirus has spread, as supply lines are disrupted, citizens are restricted to “essential-only” travel, and more and more of society if forced to transition to The New Normal.

In keeping with my earlier concurring with slogan “Prepare. Don’t Panic,” I wanted to do everything I could to contribute to the global effort to stop this disease. My greatest resource is the quality of the people who follow this blog and the content that I put out, so I decided to compile above list to give hope to some people who are suffering with tremendous panic and anxiety over not being able to access equipment and supplies to protect themselves from a worsening pandemic.

I hope that this list helps those who use it, especially those who fit the above description.

I wish you all the best. We are all in this fight together, so please be mindful of your activities if you have to be in public. If you feel your rights have been violated by an overzealous police officer, do your best to comply with any orders given, while ensuring to take note of the officer’s name and number and call an attorney, who can assist you in seeking recompense.

Remember, those officers, doctors, nurses, EMTs, medical assistants, students, and every other first responder, health care worker, law enforcement officer, military personnel, and even the politicians that we love to hate are all on the front lines of this thing with us, so why not try to support each other as we try to emerge as close to normal as possible.

 Best of luck to you all, and remember to check back with us at on or after March 23, 2020 (Monday), after we have gone live, for great tips and tricks for hunkering down during stay-at-home orders.

Best of luck to all of you as we all fight COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus.

About the Author:

W. Paul Alexander is a freelance paralegal, a work-from-home expert, and a prolific author and professional writer living and working in Florida with his wife Lauren, a notary public and criminal justice professional (who also contributes to the Work At Home Pros site, going live March 23, 2020). He has ghostwritten for many major-name authors, and is now transitioning to self-attributed works. He enjoys spending time with his family, the Great Political Dance, and keeping up with current events.















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