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Michigan AG cracks down on businesses price gouging during coronavirus outbreak

DETROIT – Michigan’s attorney general is going after both big and small businesses that are jacking up the prices on items during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

MORE: Here’s which Michigan counties have confirmed cases of coronavirus

On Tuesday, Attorney General Dana Nessel issues a cease and desist order to Menards. She said the retailer has raised the prices on face masks, bleach and other products that people are buying because of coronavirus fears.

According to officials, investigators found that the prices of cleaning products was doubled and the prices of masks were significantly raised. These price changes were tied to an in-store rebate.

She also took actions against a seller on eBay.

“Our primary focus is consumer protection and ensuring that Michiganders have access to the goods they need at reasonable prices,” Nessel said. “We are not looking to shut down companies or financially jeopardize any business owner with fines, but when proprietors are not following the laws, we will take swift legal action to protect the pocketbooks of residents in this state. I can assure you that anyone trying to illegally profit off this public health emergency will be held accountable.”

Earlier this week, Nessel extended the hours for the Consumer Protection hotline so people can report price gouging. Those hours will be extended again this weekend. The line will take calls from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

Call 877-765-8388 to report price gouging.

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).
  • Some spread might be possible before people show symptoms; there have been reports of this occurring with this new coronavirus, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

MORE: Beaumont Health launches coronavirus hotline for patients with symptoms

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about coronavirus here.


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