NY Gov. Reveals State Hand Sanitizer Amid Price Gouging, COVID-19 Fears

Cuomo said the sanitizer has a "very nice floral bouquet"

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What to Know

  • New York is now producing its own hand sanitizer, NYS Clean
  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the new product as a response to price gouging on hand sanitizer amid coronavirus fears
  • The product is made by New York prisoners in the NYS Department of Corrections system

New York now has its own state hand sanitizer, and it's packaged by prisoners.

The state sanitizer "NYS Clean" was revealed in a press conference on the spread of coronavirus in New York held by Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday morning. Around 100,000 gallons a day of the product is due to be distributed to places like schools, the MTA, not-for-profits and other government agencies around the state.

Amid surging numbers of novel coronavirus cases in the state there has been a rush on hand sanitizers in stores, with reports of stockists hugely inflating product prices. Last week a hardware store in Manhattan was fined for hiking prices on products like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, cleaning products made popular in recent weeks due to the spread of COVID-19.

"We are problem solvers," the governor said Monday. "And there is price gouging on hand sanitizer and a high demand for hand sanitizer. What do you do? Make your own hand sanitizer? Can you do that?"

The governor snapped his fingers and sent a directive to two staff members: "Open the curtain please." Two blue curtains were pulled back to reveal stacks of the NYS Clean hand sanitizer. The governor squeezed some on his hands, pointing out that the product comes in a variety of sizes and has a very nice floral bouquet. "I detect lilac, hydrangea, tulips," he said.

The sanitizer is bought from a manufacturer and bottled and packaged by prisoners for Corcraft Products, which is the "brand name" for the Division of Correctional Industries. Incarcerated people in locations around the state make products for Corcraft which are then sold to government agencies in New York including schools, fire departments and non-profits.

Corcraft's website says the prisoners make everything from license plates, to mattresses, to cleaning products -- all in the name of work experience and to prepare offenders for release.

Cuomo said NYS Clean is a superior product to others on the market. While the World Health Organization and CDC suggest a minimum 60 percent alcohol content, NYS Clean has 75 percent alcohol. " Purell -- a competitor of NYS Clean -- has 70 percent," he said.

A hardware store in Manhattan was fined for hiking prices on products like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes, cleaning products popular in recent weeks to prevent or ward off the spread COVID-19.

As new cases of the novel coronavirus continue to surge locally and worldwide, officials in the tri-state area are cautioning residents of scams and warning retailers and unscrupulous individuals to not take advantage of people's fears.

New York Attorney General Letitia James issued guidance to New Yorkers highlighting available resources and potential consumer scams related to COVID-19. She said her office is actively monitoring retailers for potential incidents of price gouging of necessary goods and entities selling bogus medical treatments that purport to effectively treat or cure COVID-19.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the state's Division of Consumer Affair also issued a warning to retailers: don't try to profit from coronavirus fears.

New Jersey officials sent warning letters to 10 retailers suspected of significantly inflating prices of items associated with the current concerns related to COVID-19. The letters warned retailers that New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) protects consumers from gross and unreasonable inflation of the price of any product in response to concerns about a public health event, such as the current spread of COVID-19.

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