New York to produce own free hand sanitizer amid statewide shortage during coronavirus outbreak

NEW YORK -- New York state will produce its own sanitizer during the outbreak of statewide novel coronavirus cases and will provide it free of charge to all residents.

During a Monday briefing on COVID-19, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state will produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer each week in 1.7 oz., 7 oz. and gallon bottles. Distribution will be prioritized by the most impacted and high-risk communities and state agencies including the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

"As the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus continues to rise, unscrupulous retailers are exploiting New Yorkers' anxieties about the virus and charging exorbitant prices for hand sanitizer and other similar products," Cuomo said. "To solve this problem, the state is producing and deploying hand sanitizer to high impact areas as well as schools, the MTA, and other government agencies because you can't get it on the market and the product that is available is very expensive. The biggest problem we have in this situation is fear, not the virus itself, and I'm once again reminding everyone to focus on the facts because the facts do not warrant the level of anxiety we are seeing."

New York's version is being made by prison inmates, who already make various cleaning products.

Some retailers are reportedly charging approximately 10 times what major retailers charge for hand sanitizer.

Cuomo said that on eBay, a pack of five 2.5-ounce Germ-X hand sanitizer bottles was selling for $500. By comparison, two 30-ounce bottles of Germ-X were offered online by Walmart for less than $8.

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, these simple steps can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • 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.

The state's Department of Health has additional information on COVID-19 at its website.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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