Josh Silverman, CEO of Etsy, Inc. (NASDAQ:ETSY), said in a news release last Friday that the online retail hub is "mobilizing" its sellers to help fight the COVID-19 coronavirus by selling cloth masks alongside other merchandise on the site. As the U.S. struggles to cope with the respiratory illness, Silverman said individuals selling on the Etsy marketplace can make a difference in the fight, but need to be careful about making specific health claims for their creations.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) now says Americans should wear non-medical face masks to help prevent spread of the infection, as revealed during a Friday briefing by President Donald Trump. The recommendation comes at a moment when "Etsy has sold hundreds of thousands of masks over the past two days," according to Silverman.
The Etsy CEO added that over the course of the past week, even before the government announcement, more than 10,000 sellers sold at least one mask on the website. He said the company encourages sellers to make fabric masks, increasing the non-medical mask supply and thus indirectly freeing up more medical- and surgical-grade masks for emergency and healthcare personnel who may be exposed to dozens or hundreds of possible coronavirus carriers daily.
However, sellers must be careful not to make medical claims, or risk having their items delisted and their account suspended, in the case of repeated violations.
Share prices rallied following an Etsy executive fireside chat that told investors the company has seen outstanding double-digit sales increases for much of the first quarter of 2020.