The federal government has seized medical supplies stockpiled in New Jersey and distributed those supplies to health officials amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Fox News reports the Justice Department along with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)) ordered the confiscation of nearly 192,000 N95 respirator masks and other medical supplies discovered by the FBI during an enforcement operation last week.
Using powers under the Defense Production Act, HHS ordered the supplies to be handed over to the government. Along with the N95 respirator masks, the FBI found nearly 600,000 medical-grade gloves, over 100,000 medical-grade masks, surgical gowns, hand sanitizers and other types of disinfectants.
(Via Fox News)
"Cracking down on the hoarding of vital supplies allows us to distribute this material to the heroic healthcare workers on the frontlines who are most in need," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. "Thanks to the quick work of the White House, the Department of Justice, and HHS, the seized resources were distributed in days to the doctors, nurses and first responders who need them."
HHS is expected to pay the owner of the hoarded equipment pre-COVID-19 fair market value for the supplies.
After inspecting the supplies, HHS arranged for the delivery of the PPE (personal protective equipment) to the New Jersey Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Last week, the Justice Department announced a crackdown on hoarders and price gougers adversely affecting the supply of much-needed medical supplies.
"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," Attorney General William Barr said at a White House briefing last Monday.
Barr said the task force won't affect businesses or consumers stockpiling supplies for their own use, only groups or individuals hoarding the supplies for the purpose of market manipulation.
"If you have a big supply of toilet paper in your house, this is not something you have to worry about," the Attorney General explained. "But, if you are sitting on a warehouse with masks, surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door."