Drop-shipping business misleads Michigan consumers about face masks amid COVID-19 outbreak

Personal protection equipment is desperately needed by Metro Detroit hospitals. If you have equipment you can donate, see below for more info.
Personal protection equipment is desperately needed by Metro Detroit hospitals. If you have equipment you can donate, see below for more info. (Chevy in the D)

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel sent a cease and desist letter to a Wyoming business for price-gouging and misrepresenting the types of face masks it was attempting to sell to an employee of a Lansing-area hospital.

The letter was sent Monday to Seek Everest LLC after the Attorney General’s office received a complaint from an anesthesiologist at Sparrow Hospital. Seek Everest transacts business online and does not reveal its true base of operations.

The business was trying to sell the employee face masks advertised as having the N95 designation. The masks were actually being imported from China and might not offer the same protections, according to the attorney general’s office.

The company also indicated the masks were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) when they had not been. The FDA has been reluctant to approve any masks coming from China.

Drop-shippers create websites to collect payments from consumers and then order the product from another company. It is often done at a markup, which means the consumer is being price-gouged.

The Sparrow Hospital employee’s complaint was corroborated by 16 additional consumer complaints about Seek Everest that were obtained by the Attorney General’s office from the Better Business Bureau.

“Price-gouging, misrepresentation of goods and services, attempting to mislead or deceive customers, and failing to provide refunds appropriately – this all adds up to illegal activity under Michigan law and I won’t tolerate it,” Nessel said. “This business appears to have a poor track record, and now it is potentially putting Michiganders’ lives at risk by selling face masks under false pretenses. This type of behavior is not only unlawful, it’s morally reprehensible and it must stop.”

Seek Everest has 10 days to provide the Attorney General’s office with assurances of voluntary compliance.

Consumers can file a complaint online or by calling the tip line at 877-765-8388. Hours of operation are between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

MORE: What the CDC says you should do if you believe you have coronavirus (COVID-19)

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?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

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.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

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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