Coronavirus Sparks Worldwide Price-Gouging
[Update from the warehouse: Demand is high for Survival Food due to the global Coronavirus crisis. But as of today, 4Patriots food kits are still available and ready to mail.]
We knew it would happen. It follows every crisis. There will always be people who jump at the shot to exploit the public when panic sets in.
I’m talking about people shamelessly taking advantage of anxieties about the coronavirus.
How are they doing this? Price-gouging.
Over 60,000 people are sick from the coronavirus, and more than 1,300 have died. And as the virus continues to spread, businesses are at the ready.
Many are raising their prices on in-demand items such as surgical masks, hand sanitizers, medicine and food. While others are even collecting these sought after items, and putting them online for even higher.
Either way, shelves empty quickly. Which means the people who most need these items can’t get them.
It’s Not Just China
Sadly, this is not just happening in China – where this deadly coronavirus started. It’s also happening in Japan, Australia, and yes, even here in the U.S.
The Japan Times reports that manufacturers are working around the clock to keep up with surgical mask need. But many individuals still can’t find them available.
Some pharmacies are setting limits for the number of masks a person can get.
Akiko Ito is head of the Japanese Consumer Affairs Agency. He urges people not to get surgical masks for resale.
Masks in Demand
An Australian television station reports that profiteers are asking for hundreds above listed prices for masks.
Cameron is a resident of Australia. He recently returned from China, where the death toll from the coronavirus has already exceeded that produced by SARS.
“I was expecting to give about $40 or $50 (for surgical masks),” he said. “But (the pharmacist) said it was almost $400.”
He was getting masks for his wife. She had just returned from China and was being held in isolation.
China Government Cracking Down
Chris Freeman is national president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. Here’s what he says.
“While they might be able to make a lot in the short term, what we may end up with is a situation where people who genuinely do need the masks then have not got access to them.”
Price-gouging amid the coronavirus scare is also occurring in China. But the Chinese government is trying to crack down on it.
They’re monitoring supermarkets and pharmacies. And levying large fines against gougers.
Another U.S. Confirmed Case
The coronavirus is now making inroads in the U.S. And already we’re seeing increases here.
As of this article, 15 cases in seven states are confirmed in America. That 15th patient was recently in Wuhan, China, where the virus originated.
Last week in Washington, D.C., a pharmacy ran out of masks. A nearby CVS was unable to provide people with masks for two weeks.
In addition to price-gouging, masks are hard to come by because many are made in China. The need is greater there.
Will it Reach Pandemic?
The coronavirus has not yet been declared a pandemic. But many health officials believe it will be soon.
Dr. Robert Redfield is the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He says the coronavirus will likely stay for “beyond this season, or beyond this year.”
What is the U.S. government doing to protect citizens? Defense Secretary Mark Esper and the Joint Staff issued an executive order. It directed Northern Command and geographic combatant commanders to initiate a pandemic plan.
This plan was made for an event such as the coronavirus. It’s called the Department of Defense Global Campaign Plan for Pandemic influenza and Infectious Diseases.
U.S. Military Launching Plan
The first step for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps is isolating service members who traveled to China recently.
Other components of the plan will begin if the virus continues to spread across the U.S.
“As military professionals, planning for a range of contingencies is something we should give the American people,” said Navy Lieutenant Commander Mike Hatfield.
In the meantime, citizens are urged to wash their hands frequently and stay home if ill.
Food Rates Soaring
Earlier I mentioned that some companies are raising food rates to take advantage of the situation.
In China, one market increased their lettuce to more than 7x its normal amount. And boosted cabbage to about 5x the usual amount.
Nationwide, pork is up by more than 100 percent. And vegetables are 17 percent higher. Some increases are due to gouging. Others are a result of hoarding.
Still others are because of production and distribution being disrupted by road closures. If the coronavirus were not enough, China food production is also reeling from a swine fever epidemic and bird flu.
4Patriots Food Prices at 2014 Levels
Unfortunately, some survival food groups in the U.S. are also increasing their rates to take advantage of the coronavirus scare.
It’s important to us that you know we don’t do that here. 4Patriots would never take advantage of the coronavirus crisis – or any emergency – to raise our food rates.
In fact, our survival food is the same exact price as in 2014 – six years ago! That’s pretty much unheard of in this industry.
And the good news is, we still have plenty of food in stock. Building your emergency food supply is a good idea any time. But with talk of the coronavirus spreading farther and becoming a pandemic, it’s more important now than ever.