Trump Signs Order to Prevent Hoarding, Price Gouging of ‘Critical’ Supplies

March 24, 2020 Updated: March 24, 2020

President Donald Trump on March 23 signed an executive order to prevent the price gouging and hoarding of “critical supplies” needed to combat the CCP virus outbreak.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement of the outbreak in Wuhan allowed the virus to spread across China and fan a global pandemic.

“We have some people hoarding. We want to prevent price gouging and critical resources are going to be protected in every form,” Trump said at a press conference on Monday.

The White House said that the president is authorized under the Defense Production Act to prohibit the hoarding of needed resources.

“This sends a strong message,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham wrote on Twitter. “We will not let those hoarding vital supplies & price gougers to harm the health of America in this hour of need.”

Attorney General William Barr emphasized that individuals who stockpile essential supplies will not be the target of the presidential action, but those who hoard items to sell with hiked up prices are, and may be subject to investigation.

“If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about, but if you are sitting on a warehouse with surgical masks, you’ll be hearing a knock on your door,” he said. 

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has now been granted the authority to determine which items are prohibited for sale in “unnecessary quantities” above the fair market value in light of the new hoarding rules.

The HHS will work with the Department of Justice to enforce the measure where hoarding may be impeding the supply of health and medical resources that are needed to combat the spread of the virus, the White House said. The items have not yet been designated.

The measure aims to ensure that hospitals, first-responders, and doctors have sufficient supplies of critical medical equipment, including 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,” the White House said. “All Americans must come together to help one another during this time and help combat the outbreak.”

The New York attorney general office told The Epoch Times last week that it had received dozens of complaints about price gouging for masks, hand sanitizers, and disinfectant sprays.

The executive order comes after Trump on March 15 urged Americans not to stockpile groceries and other supplies as he assured that grocers would remain open and that the supply chain remained healthy.

“You don’t have to buy so much,” Trump said at a White House briefing. “Take it easy. Just relax.” 

According to official government data collated by Johns Hopkins University, as of Monday night, there were 46,371 confirmed COVID-19 infections in the United States and 585 deaths.