In a system severely taxed by the COVID-19 pandemic, hoarding of health and medical supplies has become a serious concern, and a new Executive Order, to be enforced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is now in effect to tackle that concern.
“Today, we designated a set of medical products that will be subject to the President’s recent executive order to prevent hoarding and price-gouging,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “HHS and FEMA will continue working closely together to monitor and address shortages of necessary medical products, and we look forward to working closely with the Department of Justice on hoarding prevention measures.”
The order was delegated to Azar, who has been tasked with clamping down. In response, the HHS released a list of health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19, or are likely to be in short supply. Those found to be gathering said supplies in excess of what is deemed to be “reasonable demands” of business, personal or home consumption, or for the purpose of resale at prices over prevailing market prices could be pursued at the department’s discretion.
So far, designated materials include respirators, portable ventilators, Chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine HCl, Sterilization services for certain medical devices and certain sterilizers, disinfectants suitable for use in a clinical setting, medical gowns or apparel, as well as any personal protective equipment (PPE) coveralls, face masks, surgical masks, face shields, gloves or surgical gloves.
As it stands, items could be removed or added to the list during periodic review by Azar.