Hoarding and selling medical-grade face masks, surgical gowns and other equipment in high demand during the coronavirus pandemic is now a federal crime, Alaska’s U.S. Attorney warned Monday.
The Defense Production Act, signed into law by President Donald Trump, authorizes the government to designate specific “scarce healthcare medical items” as protected under the law, according to Bryan Schroder, Alaska’s top federal prosecutor.
People who accumulate those items “in excess of his or her reasonable needs” or “for the purpose of selling” above market price are committing the crime of “hoarding of designated scarce materials,” according to the U.S. attorney for the District of Alaska.
Items on a list of items designated as “scarce” by the Department of Health and Human Services include N-95 filtering face masks, portable ventilators, surgical gowns, personal protective equipment such as Tyvek suits, surgical gloves and other medical items.
Schroder said his office would investigate and prosecute people hoarding and selling medical equipment in Alaska, promising to “root out these schemes and bring the criminals to justice.”
Correction: This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Bryan Schroder’s last name.