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Looking for hand sanitizer? Good luck finding it

Shelves locally and around the nation have been emptied as people look to protect themselves from coronavirus.

BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Fear of the coronavirus has led people to stock up on hand sanitizer, leaving store shelves empty and online retailers with sky-high prices set by those trying to profit on the rush. 

Locally, the shelves were bare when we checked out the CVS pharmacies in Hinckley and Bay Village on Tuesday. 

On Amazon, most hand sanitizers were gone. Those that were left was seriously overpriced, even though the company has said it was policing its site for price gougers. According to the Associated Press, two 8-ounce bottles of Purell, for example, were being offered for $119 by a third-party seller; such vendors can list their items for sale on Amazon.com directly.

The good news? More of the clear gel is on the way. 

Purell, the best-selling hand sanitizer, is pumping up production. And Walmart and other stores say they are talking to suppliers to stock up bare shelves. 

According to Samantha Williams, Corporate Communications Senior Director at Akron-based GOJO, which makes Purell, "We have increased production significantly and our GOJO team members are working hard to ensure people have the PURELL® and GOJO® products they need. We have a surge preparedness team that runs in the background all the time, who have been fully activated and are coordinating our response to the increase in demand."

Williams adds that the company has not seen any price gouging by any of its authorized retailers. 

Sales of hand sanitizers in the U.S. were up 73% in the four weeks ending Feb. 22, compared with the same period the year before, according to market research firm Nielsen. 

The alcohol-based gunk is convenient, but hand sanitizer isn't the best way to clean your hands. For that, soap and water still reigns supreme, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The agency recommends first washing hands with warm or cold water and then lathering soap for 20 seconds to get it on the backs of hands, between fingers and under finger nails before rinsing off.

Check out our special Coronavirus section here 

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