Attorney General Ellison calls out Minnesota business for price-gouging N95 masks during COVID-19 pandemic

A Little Canada-based company started selling N95 masks having never sold them before.
Author:
Publish date:

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison is calling on Minnesotans to report to his office any and all price-gouging they see on essential items. 

"We’ve had almost 500 complaints in the first week, and we’re looking into every one," Ellison says, noting that companies, both local and online, have attempted to take advantage of customers in need of supplies that have become limited in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

One such local business Ellison named is Dragon Door Publications. Per Ellison, the Little Canada-based exercise and weight-lifting equipment retailer began selling N95 respirator masks for $5 each (plus shipping). 

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, Dragon Door Publications had not sold N95 masks, which are in short supply at healthcare facilities around the state and nation as doctors and nurses are forced to reuse masks due to the shortage. 

If a customer purchased a $499 fitness program, Dragon Door Publications was offering throw in N95 masks free of charge. 

Under Gov. Tim Walz's peacetime emergency orders, the Attorney General has the authority to enforce a ban on pandemic profiteering of essential items. In the case of N95 masks, the order states that they not be used “other than for use in delivering critical health care services or essential services requiring such equipment." 

Companies that don't need the masks for daily operations are urged to donate them to healthcare facilities. Dragon Door has since agreed to refund all customers who bought masks and to donate all that are remaining. 

Ellison has also informed major online retailers like Amazon, Facebook, eBay, Walmart, and Craigslist that pandemic profiteering will not be tolerated. Among the price-gouging seen since the outbreak began: 

– 2-liter bottle of hand sanitizer for $250 on Craigslist

– 8 oz. hand sanitizer for $40 on Facebook Marketplace

– 50% price increases on all hand sanitizer and face masks on Amazon

“Now more than ever, my job is to help Minnesotans afford their lives — but pandemic profiteering, including online, is making that harder. The major online retailers have a responsibility to put an end to it,” Ellison said in a statement. 

“The vast majority of retailers who are selling essential items are doing the right thing by Minnesotans right now — and their workers are our heroes. But if you’re profiteering off the pandemic, my office and I are coming after you.”

Anyone can report price-gouging online through this form, or by calling 651-296-3353 or 800-657-3787.

Next Up

closed sign

What's open and closed in Minnesota on Thanksgiving Day 2020?

Most services will not be running on Thursday and unlike most years, many stores will be closed, too.

PennyMomentos

How a turkey's brush with celebrity in Bloomington came to a tragic end

DNR: if you care about wild animals, stop feeding them

TCF Bank Stadium

Saturday's Gophers/Badgers football game canceled due to COVID-19 issues

The Battle for Paul Bunyan's Axe will not take place for the first time since 1906.

coronavirus, Iowa

MN health officials don't think downside of COVID-19 peak has arrived

We could be in a trough between a series of waves, Jan Malcolm said.

covid-19, coronavirus

Wisconsin reports record 104 deaths from COVID-19 Tuesday

That's roughly 10% of the total in the nation in a 24-hour period.

Drywall

Husband and wife sentenced for fraud scheme through their drywall firm

The Annandale pair bilked an insurance company out of more than $300,000.

ambulance

4 pedestrians suffer life-threatening injuries after being struck by vehicle

Two vehicles crashed into a car that was on the side of the road after striking a deer.

Marcus Carr

Gophers season preview: New lineup, deeper bench, more questions

Mathew Goldstein takes a deep dive into the murky waters of the college hoops season.

20201107_vivir-1151-Edit

Photos: ViV!R, Minneapolis' new Mexican cafe and shop, is now open

The team behind the acclaimed Popol Vuh have opened the cafe in the same space.

MasklessJudgesinWiscoyTownship

At Wiscoy Township's sole precinct, election judges ditched masks

Voter and Wiscoy resident Kaitlyn O'Connor took a photo of the judges after asking them to wear masks, she said

Related

N95 masks at a Target store.

Target issues apology after being called out for selling face masks in WA

The company says the N95 masks "were available for purchase in error."

N95 mask

President Trump orders 3M to prioritize producing N95 masks

It comes after 3M was criticized for shipping masks to foreign countries.

N95 respirator mask.

Amid 'drastic' shortages, MN nurse group asking for N95 mask donations

Got any unused ones? You can give them to the MN Nurses Association.

Cleaning

St. Paul company hiked prices of health supplies, food during pandemic

It has agreed to stop selling consumer goods after action was brought by Attorney General Keith Ellison.

mask

Walz launches 'homemade mask drive' to help congregate living facilities

He's calling on "crafters, sewers, and creatives" for help.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

Health department down to 1 week supply of gowns, low on other PPE

The shortage comes as Minnesota is competing with other states for PPE supplies.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

Coronavirus stats: Key points from Minnesota's new data site

The site is interactive and allows updated information for supplies and hospital capacity.

Keith Ellison

Keith Ellison, MN farmers push for probe into beef industry price fixing

Ellison joined attorney generals from 10 other states in calling for the Department of Justice to investigate.