The surgeon general wants Americans to stop buying face masks

Police officers wearing face masks stand by as guests leave the H10 Costa Adeje Palace hotel in La Caleta, in the Canary Island of Tenerife, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Some guests have started to leave the locked down hotel after undergoing screening for the COVID-19 virus. (AP Photo/Joan Mateu) (Joan Mateu, Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

CNN – The United States' top doctor has one simple request: Stop buying face masks.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams' message, posted to Twitter on Saturday, was a response to face mask shortages as people stocked up due to coronavirus concerns.

“Seriously people,” he began, and though it’s a tweet, you can almost hear the exasperation in his plea. “STOP BUYING MASKS!”

"They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can't get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!" he continued.

Washing your hands, staying home when sick and other "everyday preventive actions" are the best protections, Adams said. He urged people to get a flu shot, as fewer flu patients means more resources to fight the coronavirus.

The tweet comes during what has become a mask boom. With coronavirus popping up in the United States, some have begun buying face masks as a form of protection, despite the likes of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Vice President Mike Pence saying they're unnecessary.

And, like Adams points out, if these masks run out, they won't be available to the medical professionals who are at the highest risk for disease transmission.

Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, told CNN the rush to buy masks is a "psychological thing."

"The coronavirus is coming, and we feel rather helpless," he said Saturday. "By getting masks and wearing them, we move the locus of control somewhat to ourselves."

Meanwhile, stores across the country have run out of masks. As for online shipments, many orders have been pushed back.