COVID-19 pandemic leads to coin shortage across the country

Jeff Ehling Image
Monday, July 13, 2020
COVID-19 pandemic leads to coin shortage across the country
These stores will not be returning coin change to customers who pay with cash due to a shortage. Watch the video above to see what they will do with your change instead.

You may be surprised to learn coins are becoming harder to find thanks to COVID-19.

Action13 found some stores are even letting customers know they are running low on change.

"When you start disabling the way people spend money, I am telling you, that is going to create more of an issue than a lot of these other things that are going on," Kenny Duncan Jr., the general manager of U.S. Coins & Jewelry said.

Duncan deals with rare coins every day in Houston, but he's not concerned about hard to find coins.

He's starting to pay attention to the everyday change in currency we get from a store.

Duncan says pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters are becoming harder to come by for banks and retailers because of COVID-19.

"With businesses shutting down, you don't have the influx of change coming in, and then that goes to the banks, and the banks don't have any change," Duncan said.

Many businesses that are open are not taking cash payments, encouraging customers to pay with credit cards.

As fewer of us have the ability to exchange coins the supply is starting to dry up, plus the Department of the Treasury minted fewer coins earlier this year to protect workers from COVID-19.

The shortage is supposed to be temporary.

The other issue with coins, are they safe? The World Health Organization says there is no evidence to confirm or disprove that COVID-19 can be transmitted through coins or banknotes.

However, new research suggests coronavirus may be able to live on the surface of coins and currency for quite some time.

"They did find that in metals specifically, it can survive up to two days and in paper and currency, about 30 minutes," Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease expert at UT Health said.

Ostrosky says it's a good idea to clean your hands after touching money.

It's also smart to use credit cards or touchless pay options when possible.

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