COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- First, it was toilet paper and hand sanitizer; now, coins have joined the list of items in short supply because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brendan Zahl, of Community Banks of Colorado, said there are two factors driving a nationwide shortage of coins.
"The closure of banks and other businesses took coins out of circulation," he said. "That means people couldn't use them in vending machines, laundry machines, car washes or in other aspects of the economy. People couldn't go to the bank to get a roll of coins, or to recycle coins into dollar bills."
Zahl also said the U.S. Mint produced fewer coins this year, in an effort to reduce the amount that could be touched by people and spread the virus.
"It makes sense that there is a coin shortage," he said. "But as far as a bank --and banks are notorious for risk-planning -- I wouldn't say that we've had a lot of discussion around what happens when there is a coin shortage."
Zahl also said there is no procedure in place for sanitizing coins or bills.
"We rely on our clerks to wear gloves, use hand sanitizers and handle it that way," he said.
Many banks are limiting the amount of coins ordered by stores and other businesses, or delaying delivery. Stores are posting signs asking customers to pay with exact change.
"We no longer give out rolls of coins," said Rebecca Gunn. a convenience store clerk in Colorado Springs. "It's inconvenient for some people."
Zahl believes the shortage will end this fall, as more businesses reopen.
"People tend to think we use credit and debit cards for most transactions," he said. "But I'd guess that 30 percent of person-to-person bank transactions involve coins."