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Face masks becoming a hot commodity amid coronavirus concerns

Demand for face masks is rippling across Iowa right now.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Combating the spread of COVID-19 is the top priority for countries around the world and right here in the U.S.

Global cases of the coronavirus passed 82-thousand tonight.

The death toll now over 2,800.

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Most of the people infected are in China, but there are 4,100 cases outside the country.

Here in the U.S., 60 cases have been reported so far, almost entirely among those who traveled to the U.S. from China. 

But a new case in California has experts worried. It may be the first example of "Community spread."

Now what does that mean?

It means experts don't know how that person was infected with the virus.

The patient didn't travel anywhere where the virus is common and had no known exposure to anyone with it.

One product that's flying off shelves across America, including right here in Iowa are face masks. 

Face masks are near impossible to find both in stores and online, despite health officials telling people not to wear them to protect themselves from the coronavirus. 

But what's more worrying is the fact that soon we may start seeing shortages of medications here in America. 

90% of the active ingredients used by U.S. drug manufacturers comes from china. It's a concerning statistic, as Chinese exports continue to shrink.  

"If this continues over the next few weeks or months, we could start seeing shortages here in the United States and that's very concerning both as a policy maker here at the Capitol and as a pharmacist," state Rep. John Forbes (D-Urbandale) said. 

Right now, Forbes, who's also a pharmacist, hasn't seen any shortages at his store because of the virus. 

True Value Hardware in West Des Moines also ran out of masks.

Air travel seems to be a common reason for people wearing masks.

"It's a little frightening," Jason Oliver, who flew to Des Moines International Airport, said. "Certainly you want to know that others are trying to take precautions, but it puts an air that there's something out there."