Trump medical equipment hoarding, supplies amid the coronavirus outbreak.
President Donald Trump announced Monday that he signed an executive order to prohibit the hoarding of equipment and supplies necessary to addressing the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hand sanitizer, face masks and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, are in short supply thanks to a sudden and overwhelming increase in demand throughout the U.S. caused by the coronavirus outbreak. The Trump administration decided to take action following reports that some people have stocked up on critical equipment and supplies, which can exacerbate shortages. “We have started to see some evidence of potential hoarding and price gouging,” United States Attorney General Bill Barr said.
HHS Secretary Alex Azar can determine what essential equipment and supplies are “scarce” under the order.
“That means it will be a crime to stockpile these items in excessive quantities,” Trump said.
The U.S. Department of Justice will work with HHS to identify potential lawbreakers. The Trump administration created a national task force to work on supply chain issues, especially hoarding and price gouging, according to Barr.
“We’re not talking about consumers or businesses stockpiling supplies for their own operations,” Barr said. “But if you are sitting on a warehouse with . . . surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.”
The Defense Production Act allows the president to ban the hoarding of critical materials if those resources are “scarce” or if hoarding could threaten the supply because it’s too concentrated.