In the week ending March 7, just as the coronavirus hit, sales of toilet paper in in the United States jumped 60%.

These days Juan Corzo Jr,. co-owner of South Florida Tissue Paper Co. in Miami Gardens, shows up for work in the morning wearing a coat and tie; but by the end of the day, which often comes late at night, he's in shorts and a T-shirt working in the factory making toilet paper.


In early March, the factory Corzo and his father, Juan Corzo Sr., own was producing about 120,000 rolls of toilet paper a day.


Now the company is making about 220,000 rolls a day with the factory running 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


The 1,000 employees at the Georgia-Pacific facility in Palatka, one of the nation’s largest toilet paper suppliers, were making Angel Soft and Quilted Northern toilet paper 24-7 before the coronavirus pandemic. Last week they shipped out 120% of their normal capacity.


GP spokesman Mark Brown declined to give specific amounts of the toilet paper being produced, calling it "inside company information."


With all that toilet paper being made, why isn't it filling the shelves at your local Publix or Winn-Dixie?


It's more a problem of getting it there than making it, Brown said.


"There are many variables in the supply chain process," he said. "Inventory levels across Georgia-Pacific’s system remain healthy. We are working hard to maximize the number of deliveries we can load and ship out of our facilities."


Demand skyrockets

Also, the demand for toilet paper skyrocketed when the coronavirus hit and have stayed high.


Sales jumped 60% in the week ending March 7, according to the Nielsen Consumer Survey — and anyone who saw shoppers filling their cars with 24-roll packs of Charmin.


"The increase came quickly," Corzo said. "We started seeing a lot more orders coming in around March 15 or 16. We were overwhelmed."


The increased demand continues as isolation orders continue.


Georgia-Pacific calculates people staying at home 24/7 increases toilet paper use by about 40%, and every two weeks:


a two-person household needs about nine double rolls


a four-person household needs about 17 double rolls


“Paper mills already typically operate 24/7, so there is little opportunity to increase overall production,” said Tim Martin, a University of Florida professor in the School of Forest Resources and Conservation.


Some mills are recalibrating to make, for instance, less bathroom tissue and more toilet paper because of the demand.


Safety first

Manufacturers also have to take measures to contain the spread of the virus.


The Corzos had the factory professionally sanitized. Workers wear gloves and safety glasses an maintain the 6-foot rule on social distancing.


"Our top priority remains the safety and well-being of our team members," Brown said.


The Corzos sell mostly to small stores throughout Florida under the brands "Soft" and "Excellence" and to distributors that put on their own private labels.


The state's toilet paper makers "will definitely fill those shelves," Corzo said. "It may take a little time, but you'll see more products in the stores very soon.


Tyler Treadway is an environment reporter who specializes in issues facing the Indian River Lagoon. Contact him at 772-221-4219 and tyler.treadway@tcpalm.com.


This story originally published to tcpalm.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.