For Her Next Act, Katie Porter Demands Amazon Donate All Their Medical Supplies

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Rep. Katie Porter is quickly emerging as the hero we need in these uncertain times. After schooling the head of the CDC last week about COVID-19 testing, she’s back with a new course of action to help the population suffering from coronavirus. This time, Porter is taking action in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. On Tuesday, the representative from California asked the online retailer to redirect stock of face masks and hand sanitizer to doctors and hospitals, who are dealing with supply shortages.
"I request that Amazon purchase a significant quantity of hand sanitizer and face masks, along with all remaining stores of those products still available for sale on the site, and donate them to health care providers across the nation," Porter wrote, referring to Amazon’s "unparalleled opportunity to continue to use its resources and operational capacity for our collective good.”
The letter comes a week after Amazon cracked down on coronavirus-related price gouging because sellers on the site were trying to profit off the pandemic, selling items like hand sanitizer and face masks for extreme markups, which Porter also addressed in her letter. Independent sellers were left with stock piles of tens of thousands of dollars worth of products that they could no longer sell on the site. In one case, after a seller with a storage unit full of hand sanitizer was featured in a New York Times story, the Tennessee attorney general stepped in to confiscate his product hoard and redistribute it to medical centers and people in need.
On Tuesday, Amazon said it would suspend shipments of nonessential items to its warehouses in the United States and United Kingdom so they can prioritize "household staples, medical supplies and other high-demand products coming into our fulfillment centers so we can more quickly receive, restock and ship these products to customers."
The company also plans to hire as many as 100,000 more workers to meet the demand for product delivery as people around the country practice social distancing. While this could help a lot of people who are losing jobs because of the pandemic, workers in Amazon’s warehouses say the company doesn’t care about their safety. Bezos, who also owns Whole Foods, has been criticized for their sick leave policy for the store’s front line workers, as well. Whole Foods offers two weeks of sick leave for anyone diagnosed with coronavirus, and asks healthy employees to donate their time to their sick coworkers.
“With the amount Jeff Bezos makes in one day, he could shut stores down and pay employees to stay safe,” Matthew Hunt, a former Whole Foods employee, told Motherboard. Because we live in a world under capitalism, we have no choice but to appeal to powerful stakeholders like Bezos to take action during this pandemic. Katie Porter understands that, and she is using what power she has to pressure the people holding our resources to do what’s right.
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