COVID peak, flu season leads to empty shelves

New COVID infections continue to increase at a rapid pace and the spread is right into cold and flu season.

It all leads to a new shortage on store shelves: cold medicines.

Shoppers in DFW come across shelves that are empty or close to them.

An employee of a pharmacy in East Dallas called it “the new toilet paper shortage.”

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In three days, there were nearly 13,000 new COVID cases in Dallas County. That is an average of just over 4,000 cases per day.

Because omicron is so contagious and COVID symptoms are similar to the common cold and flu, over-the-counter medications are flying off the shelves.

There is still a shortage to report on the shelves. This time it’s not toilet paper, or masks, or home testing, or hand sanitizer. Cold medicines and cough syrup are scarce.

A quick check of just over half a dozen pharmacies and supermarkets in Dallas revealed the same thing: empty shelves in the cold and flu aisle.

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A pharmacist at a CVS location in East Dallas said many customers have purchased medications because they have COVID or flu-like symptoms. But they’ve also seen people hit.

At a Walmart location in northeast Dallas, it was a similar sight. Cold and flu medications were gone.

“I’m not surprised the shelves are thin,” says shopper Steve Corder.

“Health and wellness are at the center of our minds like never before,” says shopper Lee Ann Longinotti. “And I think when things are out of our control and in a pandemic, we want to be as prepared as possible.”

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The shelves at Kroger on Mockingbird were not completely empty, but items like cough medicine and cough syrup were not available.

Shopper Heather King said other items like humidifiers are also in short supply.

“I’ve been to three and I’ve searched online,” she said. “All I see is empty shelves. Humidifiers of all kinds have just sold out.”

FOX 4 contacted CVS and Walgreens about product shortages, but there was no immediate response.

Although more people are getting sick and hospitalized, health officials say compared to the delta variant, the disease generally appears to be less severe, especially in those who have already been vaccinated.

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