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The Justice Department and Department of Health and Human Services are distributing nearly 200,000 N95 respirator masks and other medical supplies to New York and New Jersey after confiscating them from individuals hoarding the materials.
Fox News has learned that the FBI discovered the supplies last week in New Jersey during an enforcement operation by the Justice Department’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force and alerted HHS.
Under the Defense Production Act, HHS ordered that the supplies be immediately given to the government.
In addition to the 192,000 N95 respirator masks, the FBI found 598,000 medical-grade gloves and 130,000 surgical masks, procedure masks, N100 masks, surgical gowns, disinfectant towels, particulate filters, bottles of hand sanitizer and bottles of spray disinfectant.
“Cracking down on the hoarding of vital supplies allows us to distribute this material to the heroic healthcare workers on the frontlines who are most in need,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement. “Thanks to the quick work of the White House, the Department of Justice, and HHS, the seized resources were distributed in days to the doctors, nurses and first responders who need them.”
HHS is expected to pay the owner of the hoarded equipment pre-COVID-19 fair market value for the supplies.
After inspecting the supplies, HHS arranged for the delivery of the PPE (personal protective equipment) to the New Jersey Department of Health, the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
“If you are amassing critical medical equipment for the purpose of selling it at exorbitant prices, you can expect a knock at your door,” Attorney General Bill Barr said in a statement. “The Department of Justice’s COVID-19 Hoarding and Price Gouging Task Force is working tirelessly around the clock with all our law enforcement partners to ensure that bad actors cannot illicitly profit from the COVID-19 pandemic facing our nation.”
The discovery of the materials comes after Azar and Barr last week implemented anti-price gouging and hoarding orders for necessary supplies to combat COVID-19 and protect those on the frontlines. That order came after states, like New York, which has become the epicenter of the country’s COVID-19 outbreak, complained about price-gouging on necessary PPE like N-95 masks.
As of Thursday morning, the U.S. reported more than 216,722 positive cases of COVID-19 and more than 5,137 deaths.
Fox News' Jake Gibson contributed to this report.