Speed Reads

the coronavirus crisis

Tennessee's attorney general investigating man who bought 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer

Matt Colvin zig-zagged his way across Tennessee and Kentucky, picking up every bottle of hand sanitizer and package of disinfectant wipes along the way. The plan was to sell the items online, charging a premium to people desperate for some sanitizer amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Colvin, a Tennessee resident, shared his story with The New York Times on Saturday, and by Sunday, he had received death threats, was no longer allowed to sell on Amazon or eBay, and was under investigation by the state. "We will not tolerate price gouging in this time of exceptional need, and we will take aggressive action to stop it," Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slaterly III said.

In Tennessee, after a state of emergency has been declared by the governor, a person is forbidden from charging "grossly excessive" prices on food, gas, and medical supplies. Colvin told the Times while he was amassing this collection of wipes and hand sanitizer, he didn't realize the coronavirus was such a problem. "When we did this trip, I had no idea that these stores wouldn't be able to get replenished," Colvin said.

After Colvin's tale of making money off the coronavirus pandemic was published, he began hearing from angry people, who couldn't believe he was able to sell 300 bottles of hand sanitizer at a hefty markup before being stopped. "It was never my intention to keep necessary medical supplies out of the hands of people who needed them," Colvin told the Times on Sunday. Crying, he continued, "That's not who I am as a person." He decided to unload all of his items by donating two-thirds of his stash to a church in Tennessee, and the rest will be delivered to a group in Kentucky.