The U.S. Surgeon General has issued a plea to Americans preparing for the arrival of the coronavirus, tweeting: "Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!"
The plea from Vice-Admiral Jerome M. Adams comes amid a surge in demand for protective masks, which is putting the supply required by health workers at risk.
It's already been stated by the Centers for Disease Control that wearing face masks is not an effective way to prevent getting coronavirus, though they advised for those who already have coronavirus, to limit its spread to other people.
They are however vital pieces of equipment in the healthcare industry, and the companies that make them have been striving to keep hospitals and clinics supplied.
"The best way to protect yourself and your community is with everyday preventive actions, like staying home when you are sick and washing hands with soap and water, to help slow the spread of respiratory illness," Adams said.
Minnesota has so far had 4 suspected cases of coronavirus, all of which have proved to be negative.
Among the companies producing the masks is Minnesota's own 3M, which has been increasing the production of the N95 respirator masks used in the healthcare industry.
Vice President Mike Pence, who has been charged by President Donald Trump to lead the U.S.'s response to the coronavirus, said on Saturday the government had contracted 3M with producing 35 million more of the masks per month.
But 3M told the Star Tribune it had not received an order of that size yet from the government, though did note it was stepping up its production of the masks.
The demand for masks has led to some of those in possession of them taking advantage of people's fears.
The New York Post reported that Amazon has removed a number of "price gougers" who were offering 10-packs of N95 masks for $128, compared to their usual price of $41.