PHOENIX — Despite their continued need, Phoenix first responders agencies are being asked to spend more money than normal on N-95 masks by one vendor during the coronavirus outbreak.
Public safety vendor Galls has asked their customers to pay 600% more for them despite a recent executive order from President Donald Trump that prioritizes and allocates health and medical resources.
But after two Arizona congressmen asked Attorney General William Barr and the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the vendor who they believe is price gouging first responders and profiting off the coronavirus, Galls released a statement Friday stating it would not be profiting off its mask sales.
“We at Galls will not profit from the sale of these protective masks to our first responders and public safety partners,” Mike Galls CEO Mike Wessner said in the statement. “We are making this commitment for as long as it takes to see our country through this crisis, and urge other companies to join us in this pledge.”
One of Galls’ customers is the city of Phoenix, which frequently places orders on behalf of 24 other public safety agencies throughout Maricopa County.
“This is the right decision by Galls, and I hope other companies follow its lead,” U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton said in a press release. “During this pandemic, American companies ought to do what’s right and provide protective equipment to our doctors, nurses and first responders at no profit.”
“I welcome Galls’ commitment to eliminate their profit margins on N95 and other protective masks so that our first responders and health care workers have what they need to stay safe. They did the right thing,” U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego said in the release.
“And I urge other companies that provide masks and other personal protective equipment to states, localities, health systems, and tribes to do the same. Nobody should profit off the suffering of others during this pandemic. We all have an obligation to do what we can to support first responders and health care workers who are risking their lives every day.”
Stanton and fellow Democratic U.S. Rep. Gallego both signed the letter.
“We were just angry about the price gouging,” Stanton told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Thursday. “It’s not acceptable, it’s a violation of the President’s executive order from just a few days ago but more important it’s just morally wrong.”
“It’s extremely problematic that the prices of life-saving protective equipment needed to keep our health care and emergency professionals safe are skyrocketing,” Gallego told KTAR News. “We’re going to keep fighting this until this activity stops and the city of Phoenix is able to procure these supplies at the appropriate price.”
In an email obtained by KTAR News, Phoenix Police Lt. William Wickers said that two weeks ago, mask prices were $1 each. Days later, the price rose to $2.50 and now masks cost $5.50 each, according to Wickers’ email.
Wickers said no masks that have been ordered have been received by the department.
On March 26th, the mayor’s office held a donation drive collecting N-95 masks for both the police and fire departments.
Despite those efforts, the city of Phoenix continues to face a critical shortage of protective equipment.
Stanton is hopeful companies that sell life-saving equipment will not upcharge first responder customers working the front lines during the pandemic.
“Simply provide the equipment at the price that was agreed to for Phoenix police officers and firefighters,” Stanton said.