President Trump on Monday signed an executive order aiming to stop people from hoarding and engaging in price gouging as the U.S. continues confronting the coronavirus health scare.
Trump explained that the order seeks to stop the amassing of "vital medical equipment and supplies such as hand sanitizers, face masks and personal protective equipment."
Attorney General William Barr explained that the president is giving Secretary of Health and Human Services the authority to designate certain items for protection.
He said that if someone has "a big supply of toilet paper in your house this is not something you have to worry about" but if someone has a "warehouse with masks, surgical masks, you will be hearing a knock on your door."
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Barr said that a lead prosecutor in every one of the 93 U.S. attorneys offices will be tasked with going after offenders.
"Today we convened our first task force meeting, a national task force, that will be working on these supply chain issues and specifically on the problem of hoarding and price gouging," Barr said. "And we are designating in each of our 93 United States attorneys offices a lead prosecutor who will be responsible in that district for pursuing these cases."
The attorney general also said that even before today's executive order there had been investigations into "activities that are disrupting the supply chain and suggestive of hoarding."
The announcement comes on the the same day there were more than 100 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the U.S. according to The Washington Post. More than 500 people have died of the virus so far in the U.S.
The announcement also comes as Senators failed for the second straight day to clear a procedural hurdle and advance a stimulus package to aid embattled businesses and individuals as business closures and restrictions tank the nation's economy and threaten to leave some people unemployed for an unknown period of time.