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WGLT's reporting on the coronavirus pandemic, which began in McLean County in March 2020.

Alcohol Gel Hand Sanitizer Supplies Evaporate

Mike McCurdy
Alcohol gel hand sanitizers have run out, but some stores are offering an alternative. There's also the tried and true: handwashing.

The coronavirus is affecting businesses in central Illinois even before the first actual case comes to the region.

Tom Miller owns Miller Janitorial Supply in Normal. Among other things, he sells alcohol gel hand sanitizer in case and gallon lots.

"There's a lot of panic. But they will be producing it. I think there will be a short supply for several months," said Miller.

"Just try and wash the germs away rather than try to kill them with disinfectant hand sanitizer is the key, and it has always been the key."

Miller said he expects several months of short supply.

"We could see the supply going down steadily by the hour. One supplier was out by the end of the day last Monday. The other supplier was out by Wednesday," said Miller.

And by short, he means nonexistent for now.

"One company said their supply chain was out and they probably would not have anything available for 30 days. The one company I order direct from I ordered 300 cases on Monday. I did not get any in my order Friday," said Miller.

a picture of an empty shelf
Credit Mike McCurdy / WGLT
Janitorial supply businesses have said manufacturers predict no alcohol gel available for at least 30 days.

Miller said he also buys directly from a manufacturer, who started rationing based on past history of orders, the size of the business, and other factors. Miller said he likes to take care of customers, but if the manufacturer is out they're out. And the shortage has moved well beyond janitorial supply.

"I had a customer, it was a school, and they sent some teachers out to Sam's and they were all out," said Miller.

He said it's time to fall back on tradition: hand washing.

"Just good hygiene. Just try and wash the germs away rather than try to kill them with disinfectant hand sanitizer is the key, and it has always been the key," said Miller.

Remember, 20 seconds of scrubbing before the rinse.

Miller says he'll ship the alcohol gel when he can.

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WGLT Senior Reporter Charlie Schlenker has spent more than three award-winning decades in radio. He lives in Normal with his family.
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