As part of its response to the outbreak, Governor Andrew Cuomo rolled out a novel idea this week: official New York State hand sanitizer produced by prisoners.
According to the governor, the sanitizer has a “floral bouquet,” a description that seems ready-made for the New York State Tourism Board to run with in its brochures and television commercials.
And it doesn’t just smell nice. Although we did see some unconfirmed reports on Twitter from some people who had access to the new product alleging that the term “floral bouquet” is a bit of a stretch, but if it helps keep us all from catching COVID-19, who cares about the odor!
And Cuomo promises it will do just that. According to the governor, the CDC recommends using a hand sanitizer that is at least 60 percent alcohol. Products from manufacturers like Purell contain 70 percent alcohol, while Empire State hand sanitizer checks in at 75 percent alcohol.
Cuomo says the state will churn out 100,000 gallons of the Liberty disinfectant a week, but could produce more if necessary.
It will be available in government buildings, schools, the MTA and even the prisons were it is being made. The first batches of the stuff were sent to New Rochelle, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the state.
The move to get into the hand sanitizer game comes as news of widespread shortages and price gouging makes headlines. Retailers were selling the products on eBay and Amazon for sometimes 10 times the original price.
According to the governor’s office, a pack of five 2.5-ounce bottles of Germ-X sanitizer were being sold on eBay for $500. Walmart routinely offers two 30-ounce bottles of the stuff for about $8.
New York’s hand sanitizer, by comparison, will cost $6.10 per gallon, or about $1 for a seven-ounce bottle.
And Cuomo promised if the companies don’t crack down on unscrupulous retailers, the state could flood the entire market with its own product.
"To Purell and Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay, if you continue the price gouging we will introduce our product, which is superior to your product and you don't even have the floral bouquet," Cuomo was quoted as saying. "So stop price gouging.”
Nice touch bringing up the “floral bouquet” aspect again! We need to drill that into people’s heads. When they think “New York” and “coronavirus,” we want people to immediately think “floral bouquet.”
Of course, the fact that the state’s sanitizer is being made in prison might make that whole promise of flooding the market a little more problematic.
The sanitizer is being made by Corcraft, a “brand” produced by the state Department of Corrections that uses prisoners as its workforce. Under the current law, Corcraft is only allowed to sell its products to government agencies, schools, fire and police departments and some nonprofit groups.
But for now, everyday New Yorkers will soon have access to NYS Clean Hand Sanitizer.
And if this coronavirus outbreak extends all the way to the holiday season, think about what a great gift a gallon jug of the stuff will make for your out-of-state friends, who you won’t be allowed to see because the entire nation will be on mandatory lockdown.
Never too early to start thinking about the holidays!