New York Is Making its Own Hand Sanitizer Amid the Coronavirus Outbreak — Using Prison Labor

New York State is using prison labor to manufacture its own hand sanitizer amid an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Monday.

Cuomo unveiled the “NYS Clean” hand sanitizer during a press conference, calling it superior to existing products thanks to its scent and alcohol content of 75%. That exceeds the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendation of 60%.

Cuomo said that New York has the capacity to make 100,000 gallons of NYS Clean a week, at the cost of $6 a gallon. It will be provided to government agencies, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), schools, and prisons. It will not be sold to the public, despite shortages and price surges in New York City and other affected areas of the state.

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While introducing NYS Clean, Cuomo denounced those attempting to capitalize on people’s fears of the potentially deadly coronavirus through price gouging. “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 said. “So stop price gouging.”

NYS Clean is being made by Corcraft Products, part of New York’s Division of Correctional Industries. The company uses prison labor to make a variety of products, including floor cleaner, laundry detergent, automotive fluids and more.

It’s unclear how much prisoners are being paid to make NYS Clean. Working inmates in New York are paid between $0.10 to $0.33 an hour and work six hour days, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. Corcraft’s website says the company’s goal is to “prepare offenders for release through skill development, work ethic, respect and responsibility.”

New York has a total of 142 confirmed cases of the coronavirus, Cuomo said Monday. Most of the cases are in Westchester County, where there are 98 known infected people. Another 19 of the known cases are in New York City. Eight people across New York are currently being hospitalized with the illness.

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Contributor: Josiah Bates