First responders in Whitley and Laurel counties received some much-needed free medical supplies Friday in the form of items, such as hand sanitizer, medical masks, gloves, thermometers, goggles and disinfectant wipes.
The items were indirectly courtesy of a pair of Tennessee brothers, who amassed an assortment of over 17,000 bottles of hand sanitizer and other medical items in early March from retailers in Tennessee and Kentucky counties along the I-75 corridor in an attempt to sell the items online for large profits.
For instance, 300 bottles of hand sanitizer sold immediately for $8 – $70 each, according to published reports. Amazon and EBay soon pulled the brother’s listings and that of several other people attempting much the same thing.
Then Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron and Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III acted jointly to stop the alleged price gouging of medical products by the brothers and recovered the scarce supplies for Kentucky and Tennessee residents.
“We’re glad to be able to get these essential medical supplies back in the hands of the communities where they came from to assist our law enforcement and first responders with the response to COVID-19,” said Attorney General Cameron. “This should serve as a lesson to anyone who tries to take advantage of Kentuckians through price gouging. Predatory pricing against our citizens will not be tolerated, and we will take aggressive action against anyone who illegally profits from the coronavirus.”
Kentucky’s share of the products were returned to law enforcement and first responders in counties along I-75, including Fayette, Madison, Laurel, Whitley, and Rockcastle counties, as well as Jefferson and Spencer counties.
Whitley County EMS Director Kelly Harrison said that by the time the supplies got divided up between all the counties and various agencies in each county there wasn’t a tremendous amount to go around, but still anything helps.
“We need it tremendously bad. We have quite a bit right now, but that could change tomorrow. Every little bit helps us,” she noted.
Whitley County got primarily masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and Clorox bleach, which was divided up between Whitley County EMS, the Williamsburg Fire Department, the Whitley County Sheriff’s Department, the Williamsburg Police Department and the Corbin Police Department.
Harrison noted that these were the agencies in Whitley County contacted by the attorney general’s office to come and get the supplies.
Earlier this week, Cameron launched an online form to make it easier for Kentuckians to report suspected price gouging during the COVID-19 health crisis. The form is available at ag.ky.gov/pricegouging. Kentuckians can also report price gouging via phone by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-888-432-9257.