Donald Trump announced that criminal charges will be brought against anyone stockpiling ‘scare’ medical supplies amid the worsening coronavirus crisis.
Trump made the announcement at Monday’s coronavirus briefing alongside US Attorney General Anthony Barr, saying he invoked an executive order to ‘prohibit the hoarding of vital medical equipment and supplies such as hand sanitizer, facemasks and personal protective equipment.’
‘We have a lot of facemasks, a lot of equipment just coming in and we have some people hoarding…We want to prevent price-gouging and the critical health and medical recourses are going to be protected in every form.’
Trump said, under the directive, the secretary of health and human services authorized to designate essential health and medical supplies as ‘scarce.’
‘And that means it will be a crime to stockpile these items in excessive quantities which is happening to a relatively small degree…very simply we will not allow anyone to exploit the suffering of American citizens for their own profit.’
President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Briefing Room, Monday, March 23 (Picture: AP) Trump said federal prosecutors acting in their first such case on Sunday, shutting down a website selling a ‘totally fake vaccine.’
‘As president, I will always fight to protect Americans from being exploited,’ he said, adding that AG Barr will speak about the criminal charges later in the briefing.
Trump’s comments come as governors across the US have been pleading for more medical supplies. On Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo begged the federal government to supply the states with necessary medical equipment by using the Defense Production Act, which allows the country to commandeer business and factories to produce critical supplies.
Trump signed the act five days ago, but it still has not been used to bring relief to struggling hospitals combatting the virus.