The federal government will crack down on hoarding and price gouging schemes amid the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump said Monday, flanked by Attorney General William Barr.
The president signed Section 4512 of the Defense Production Act to prevent hoarding of personal protective equipment.
“We have some people hoarding,” Trump said in the briefing room Monday evening. “We want to prevent price gouging and critical resources are going to be protected in every form.”
Trump authorized Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to designate essential health supplies—such as masks—as “scarce” to prevent price gouging. This will prevent the purchasing of certain items in high volumes. HHS has not yet made any designation.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham announced the president had signed the order before the press briefing.
Barr followed the president at the podium to talk about how the Justice Department would enforce the order.
“We have started to see some evidence of potential hoarding and price gouging,” Barr said. “So, earlier today, the president signed a second executive order providing the authority to address … hoarding that threatens the supply of those necessary health and medical resources.”
Barr was careful to stress what the enforcement would not affect.
“If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about,” Barr said. “But if you are sitting on a warehouse with masks, surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door.”
Also during the press briefing, Trump continuously stressed, “The cure can’t be worse than the problem,” and indicated the need to soften restrictions on the economy. He didn’t give a timeline, but said it would be weeks, not months before the economy restarted.
“Let’s go to work. Our country wasn’t built to be shut down,” Trump said.
Trump, who the left attacked for calling the coronavirus the “Chinese virus,” said he was concerned that some people had “nasty” things to say to Asian Americans. The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China.
“It’s very important that we totally protect our Asian American community in the United States and all around the world,” Trump said. “They’re amazing people and the spreading of the virus is not their fault in any way, shape, or form.”
Regarding the Senate economic stimulus bill that was held up, Trump said that Congress should “join together to pass the Senate bill as written and avoid playing any more partisan games.”