ABC store at Fortuna Plaza in Dumfries

ABC store at Fortuna Plaza in Dumfries

Courtesy of Virginia Mercury

Why do clerks at state liquor stores have N95 respirators while front-line medical workers are being asked to ration their own supply?

That’s the pointed question the mom of an ICU nurse in Alexandria raised with Gov. Ralph Northam during a tele-town hall this week, relaying that her daughter was being asked to use one disposable mask for a whole week’s worth of shifts.

Northam called the rationing regrettable, but his administration said it was unaware of masks being distributed to the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority, which has a monopoly on liquor sales and distribution in the state.

But it turns out the authority does have a supply of respirators deployed to its stores and the agency confirms some clerks have been wearing them.

ABC hasn’t been competing with hospitals to get them, according to Taylor Thornberg, an agency spokeswoman. Instead, the masks are left over from the liquor authority’s 2010 preparations for the H1N1 outbreak.

She says they’re now planning to donate at least 4,200 of the masks to healthcare facilities.

“At this time, we’re donating all N95 masks in our possession that have not already been used,” Thornberg said. “The rest are in use/were used by employees who wish to wear them while working in the store.”

Sales have been booming at ABC stores, with retail sales up nearly 60 percent.

Northam, like governors in nearly every other state, has classified liquor stores as an essential business.

“Closing liquor stores would not necessarily reduce demand, but could drive consumers to travel further over state lines and/or encourage unregulated markets,” the governor’s spokeswoman told VPM.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

Recommended for you

(2) comments


It's unconscionable that liquor stores would even remotely be considered essential businesses. Much less be equipped with n95 masks. Its insane. The Governor is a racist.


Did you read the article? Anyhow it is Koch and Mercer money paid protesters that have been agitating to reopen the state. Don't see how this makes the Governor racist, this whole statement is non-sequitur.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.