March 15, 2020
LANSING – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, Michigan State Police Col. Joe Gasper, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Robert Gordon and others held a two-part news conference this afternoon to address Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s executive order placing restrictions on public assemblages due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as well as the state’s efforts to monitor and enforce price-gouging by businesses.
Also participating in the event were:
The state issued an emergency declaration late Tuesday due to the first positive cases of COVID-19. The number of confirmed cases is up to 33 as of late Saturday.
Gov. Whitmer on Friday issued an executive order that temporarily prohibits large public assemblages of more than 250 people.
Food and beverage industry leaders are reminding the public that carryout and delivery options are still available.
Establishments that violate the executive order could face legal consequences.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, who was instrumental in determining the dangerous levels of lead present in the Flint Water Crisis and the effect on children, said: “This is not about you or me. Every step we take now to limit the spread of COVID-19 will exponentially pay off in the days and weeks to come.”
While Hanna-Attisha did not attend the news conference, she expressed her support.
Meanwhile, Gov. Whitmer issued an executive order today to specifically address price-gouging related to COVID-19. That order states the following:
“We take this order seriously – as we do everything related to protecting Michigan consumers,” Nessel said. “And we have seen a dramatic increase in complaints related to price-gouging and we have taken action on those complaints. Businesses cannot and will not use this state of emergency as an economic opportunity.”
As of Friday afternoon, the Attorney General’s office had received 75 price-gouging complaints related to COVID-19. Four businesses have been contacted by the Attorney General’s office to gather more information on their consumer-reported price-gouging.
The Attorney General’s office is actively looking at other potential targets but will not identify them at this time.
Face masks, hand sanitizers, cleaning supplies, bottled water and other food items are some of the products that have reportedly been on store shelves for exceptionally high prices – likely in violation of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act. Other products consumers might seek to purchase due to the threat of COVID-19 may also be at risk of price-gouging practices.
In addition to this Executive Order, retailers may violate the Michigan Consumer Protection Act if they are:
Michigan residents are urged to report any violation of the Consumer Protection Act online or by calling 877-765-8388.
Information around the COVID-19 outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available online at a state website focused on the issue, and at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.