The N95 mask is essential protection for the health workers to be protected against the virus. Proven to provide 95% of filtration ability against strains of viruses and bacteria, including solid aerosols, safety is truly guaranteed while wearing the N95 mask.
Prior to the pandemic, the volcanic eruption in the Philippines and the Australian wildfire had made the demand for N95 masks a big hit. Various pharmacies, convenience stores, home depots, and medical health suppliers have been caught empty-handed in stocks for the N95 mask. Almost every day people are purchasing the N95 mask regardless of the price. And now that the pandemic continues to shake up global healthcare, major suppliers of the N95 mask have gone frenzy in trying to keep up with the skyrocketing demand for the mask.
Over a million pieces of the N95 mask is utilized on a daily average. Why so? Medical experts have high regard for the N95 mask as the most trusted mask to be worn in these trying times. Hospitals were not getting enough supply of the N95 mask. Companies like 3M, the world’s leading brand in making the FDA approved N95 mask, are making constant efforts in intercepting the high demand for N95 masks with an abundant supply of the N95 mask. Hospitals in the United States have been purchasing over 1.2 million pieces of the N95 mask. From over a million pieces of the N95 mask, experts projected about a range of 14 million to 20 million pieces of the N95 mask that are to be used for a year. However, hospitals are not getting much supply of the N95 mask.
This now comes the idea of hoarding and price gouging of the N95 mask. These are the very reasons that contribute to the scarcity of the N95 mask in the market. Some sellers from across the globe have made into both local and national headlines. These sellers were reported to be hoarding stocks of N95 masks and increasing its original price for a massive profit. In connection, several lawsuits have been filed against these price gougers and hoarders of the N95 mask. They were arrested and fined.
The very same incident happened at a Santa Monica day spa last October 13. Niki Schwarz, the owner of the spa, admitted to the authorities that she had hoarded at least 20,000 pieces of the N95 mask and sold the N95 mask way beyond the standard retail price. She also clarified that she had done this because she was anticipating a shortage of the N95 mask. She had blown up the price with a whopping 1100% compared to the N95 mask’s original pricing. Authorities traced the original price of the N95 mask by the time Schwarz purchased them last February. It turned out, her looted pieces of the N95 mask were priced at 87 cents to $1.27 per piece. Schwarz had sold the N95 mask at an inflated price of $15 per piece.
An associate of Schwarz notified her last March 1 about illegally selling the N95 mask at an inflated price but she persevered to sell them. Schwarz had pleaded guilty to a price-gouging offense and was sentenced to a year.
March of this year when the Department of Health and Human Services in the United States passed measures that prevent people, especially sellers, from hoarding a variety of materials that are considered scarce like the N95 mask. This is in response to the whopping demand of the providers of health care that attend patients with CoViD-19. An N95 mask is part of the healthcare providers’ PPE or Personal Protective Equipment.
Executive Order 13910 signed into effect by President Donald Trump indicates the proper distribution of PPEs, including the N95 mask, to health and medical personnel. The policy envisioned to supplement the protection of the US’ Healthcare System to any excessive tension.
Comments were blowing up over YouTube when this news was posted by CBS LA. A commentator indicated that this incident was not actually new because pharmaceutical companies had been doing the price gouging of the N95 mask for countless occasions. Another commentator expressed his sentiment about Schwarz being unfairly arrested for price gouging the N95 mask and not the big companies. Another commentator posted his idea that Schwarz was only trying to survive in this pandemic, just like those big companies.
Evidently, the price of the N95 mask had gone up. From a dollar and a couple of cents, it is now priced between $3 to $4/piece. Is this pricing of the N95 mask quite expensive? Yes. With the pandemic that everyone is in, healthcare and protection against the virus should be affordable and accessible to everyone. Is the pricing for the N95 mask reasonable? Yes and No. Yes because it is for the company’s benefit for the sake of profit. No because people should afford the protection that the N95 mask is offering. Also, the N95 mask is sold over eBay for an inflated price as well. Were they seized? Maybe yes. Maybe not.
What does this incident tell everyone?
This incident enlightens the people of how vile capitalism is for common people. Although the price gouging of the N95 mask is upsetting on a small scale, it’s natural for bigger companies. This generates unsustainability for poor people, making them poorer. And the rich? They are getting richer.
On a separate note, this emphasizes the idea of the N95 mask as the most essential and effective mask for protection. People should not overbuy the N95 mask and leave it to the medical personnel for consumption.