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Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday that the state has started making its own hand sanitizer at a state prison and warned retailers to stop price gouging.
New York state could enter the hand sanitizer business if price gouging on the open market continues, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
Amid the coronavirus outbreak the state has started making its own hand sanitizer, which will be distributed in schools, prisons, and other government agencies, but not yet to the general public.
“New York State Clean” sanitizer will be given to local governments, such as New Rochelle, a city outside of New York City that the governor noted has been a “hotspot” for the respiratory illness. Local government officials across the state have reported difficulties obtaining hand sanitizer, Cuomo said at a press conference Monday.
“You can’t get it on the market and when you can it’s very, very expensive,” Cuomo said.
Prices for hand sanitizer, face masks, disinfectants and other items people can use to protect themselves from the virus have spiked in recent weeks.
Cuomo had a message for retailers, including Amazon and eBay. “If you continue the price gouging, we will introduce our product which is superior to your product,” he said.
The hand sanitizer is being manufactured by state prisoners working for Corcraft Products, the brand name for the Division of Correctional Industries.
Corcraft’s website indicates that its products can only legally be sold to government entities, so it is unclear how the hand sanitizer would be sold on the open market or provided to the public.
The New York-made sanitizer has a higher alcohol content than many other commercial brands and costs about $6 for a gallon and $1.12 for a 7-ounce bottle, Cuomo said. The state has the capacity to manufacture about 100,000 gallons a week.
“This is much less expensive than anything the government could buy,” he said, while also noting the product's scent, described as a "very nice floral bouquet."
The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday warned companies they will be held accountable for any violation of antitrust laws amid the coronavirus outbreak. Companies that fix prices or rig bids for health-related items like sterile gloves and face masks could face criminal prosecution, according to Attorney General William Barr.
“The Department of Justice stands ready to make sure that bad actors do not take advantage of emergency response efforts, healthcare providers, or the American people during this crucial time,” Barr said.
Andrea Noble is a staff correspondent for Route Fifty.
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