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AG Barr Announces Crackdown On Hoarding, Price Gouging Critical Medical Supplies
US President Donald Trump arrives as Attorney General William Barr looks on during the daily briefing on the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, at the White House on March 23, 2020, in Washington, DC.

Attorney General William Barr announced during a press conference on Monday that the Department of Justice is cracking down on people who are hoarding critical medical supplies and engaging in price gouging.

“At the department of justice we’re working hard to protect the health and safety of our personnel, while at the same time, keeping our enforcement efforts at full throttle,” Barr said. “So I would like to thank all of my colleagues and law enforcement, not just those at the federal level, but of all of the state and local partners, the police officers, the sheriff’s deputies, who are protecting and serving their communities are often at great risk to themselves.”

“What I would like to do here is start with a few remarks about the order that the president mentioned,” Barr continued. “To ensure the availability of critical medical and health supplies from warding and price gouging. On March 18th, the president issued Executive Order 13909 with the Defense Production Act with the respect to the health and medical resources needed to respond to spread of COVID-19 including PPE and ventilators.”

“We have started to see some evidence of potential hoarding and price gouging,” Barr continued. “So earlier today the president signed a second Executive Order providing the authority to address if it becomes necessary, hoarding that threatens the supply of those necessary health and medical resources.”

“Under section 102 of the Defense Production Act, the president has authorized to prohibit the hoarding of needed resources by designating those materials as scarce or as materials who supply would be threatened by persons accumulating excessive amounts,” Barr continued. “Once specific materials are so designated, persons are prohibited from accumulating those items in excess of reasonable, personal or business needs, or for the purpose of selling them in excess of prevailing market prices.”

Barr assured people who had stocked up on large amounts of toilet paper that they were not the people that the administration was looking to crackdown on.

The White House released a statement on actions that the administration was taking to prevent, stop, and punish those who are engaging in hoarding and price gouging of critical medical supplies:

PREVENTING AND PUNISHING HOARDING AND FRAUD: President Trump is taking action to prevent the hoarding and price gouging of critical supplies needed to combat the coronavirus.

  • President Trump is signing an Executive Order providing the authority to address, if necessary, hoarding that threatens the supply of necessary health and medical resources.
    • This includes the action of hoarding unnecessary quantities of items for the purpose of selling them above the fair market value.
  • This action is authorized under the Defense Production Act, which allows the President to prohibit the hoarding of needed resources.
  • To implement the order, the President has delegated to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to designate scarce resources or resources the supply of which would be threatened by hoarding.
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ) will work with HHS to enforce the anti-hoarding provisions of the order in cases where hoarding may be impeding the supply of health and medical resources needed to combat the spread of the coronavirus.
  • Additionally, DOJ is prioritizing the detection, investigation, and prosecution of fraudulent activity and price gouging related to medical resources needed to respond to the coronavirus.

PROTECTING CRITICAL MEDICAL SUPPLIES: This action will help ensure that hospitals, first-responders, and doctors receive sufficient supplies of critical medical equipment.

  • President Trump is bringing to bear every resource, power, and authority necessary to defeat the coronavirus.
  • Nationwide, our medical professionals and first responders are in need of critical medical equipment to fight the coronavirus.
  • Hoarding and price gouging could threaten the supply of critical health and medical resources, such as personal protective equipment and sanitizing and disinfecting products.
  • By limiting access to these critical resources, those who engage in hoarding and price gouging could put both our medical workers and the health of the American people at risk.
  • All Americans must come together to help one another during this time and help combat the outbreak.

SECURING VITAL RESOURCES: Today’s action builds on the extraordinary measures that the President has already taken to ensure that America has the resources it needs to fight the virus.

  • President Trump and his Administration have taken extraordinary steps to help States, hospitals, frontline healthcare workers, and first responders procure the equipment they need.
  • The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is sending respirators, surgical masks, face shields, and gloves to places they are needed most.
  • President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act, giving HHS the authority to allocate critical resources.
  • The Trump Administration has worked with major American manufacturers to massively increase production of certain medical supplies, such as ventilators and masks.
  • The Administration has also partnered with the private sector to increase the speed and availability of diagnostic tests, implement new therapeutics, and find a vaccine.

This report has been updated to include additional information.

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