- Associated Press - Friday, April 10, 2020

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The top federal prosecutor in West Tennessee has asked hospital leaders to tell authorities about cases of hoarding or price gouging of medical supplies used in the coronavirus fight.

Memphis-based U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said in a news release Thursday that his office is focusing on “the deterrence, investigation, and prosecution of wrongdoing related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

His letter to hospital leaders and executives lists several types of supplies labeled by the federal government as scarce that could be the subject of price gouging and hoarding. They include masks, respirators, ventilators, and materials used to disinfect and sterilize.

Dunavant’s office also is keeping an eye out for fake treatments, tests and vaccines, the letter said.

“In this time of critical shortage, we are asking for your assistance in identifying individuals and companies that may have acquired vital medical supplies in excess of what they would reasonably use, or for the purpose of charging exorbitant prices,” Dunavant said.



Dunavant said he has started a federal COVID-19 task force in the district.

For the vast majority of people who have the coronavirus, symptoms clear up in several weeks without requiring hospitalization, but the consequences can be life-threatening for older people and those with existing health problems.

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Follow AP news coverage of the coronavirus pandemic at https://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak.

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