The Mask “Seller”

Because of the outbreak of coronavirus in the United States, many people are trying to wear surgical masks to protect themselves. However, people cannot buy surgical masks at regular prices right now. Hongyi Zheng, a Ball State student, is trying his best to help people get surgical masks at a normal price.

People are being told to wear a surgical mask to prevent coronavirus by Nanshan Zhong, the member of China Engineering Academy. “Surgical masks can block most virus-borne droplets from entering the respiratory tract,” Zhong said. However, Walmart and CVS don’t sell surgical masks because Americans are not used to wearing a mask for cultural reasons. Therefore, the only way to buy a surgical mask is online, but the price of surgical masks is higher than usual.

Zheng says he has a friend in New York who has the supply of high-quality surgical masks and can get them below market price. Zheng counts people's demand for surgical masks every day and buys surgical masks from New York every two weeks. Then, he sells surgical masks to people in need at the original price.

“I don’t think that making money by mask is ethical under this situation. I just hope that I can help as many people as possible with my efforts through this difficult period,” Zheng said.

It’s not just the high price. The quality of surgical masks purchased online is uneven. Stephanie Crawford, the professor of Department of Pharmacy Administration from University of Illinois at Chicago, said, “The lack of effective regulation is one of the biggest problems of internet medical device and pharmaceutical industries.”

Yu Zhang used to buy lower-quality surgical masks online at a very high price. The qualified surgical mask should have three layers, but the mask Zhang bought only has two layers. She said she really hopes there is a reliable way to buy better surgical masks.

“When I found the mask I bought online is fake, I actually feel more worried than angry, because I don’t have a mask to protect myself from coronavirus,” Zhang said. “I also went to Walmart and all CVSs in Muncie for a mask, but I can’t find it. I really hope there is a reliable way for me to buy masks.”

The surgical mask that Zheng sells is qualified. In February, when the Chinese epidemic was at its worst, he sent these surgical masks back to China to donate to the hospital at his hometown. After these surgical masks arrived in China, they were checked by the local Red Cross and sent to the hospital. “These surgical masks were also used by Chinese medical staff a month ago,” Zheng said.

So far, the first customers have received surgical masks from Zheng.

“I am very grateful to Hongyi,” said Guanju He was the first person to get the surgical mask. “He helps me get surgical masks at a very low price, and the quality of the surgical masks is also very good.”

Zheng is keeping helping people get surgical masks. For people who also need surgical masks can connect to him by e-mail: