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Report finds COVID-19 price spikes, gouging

The fast-spreading coronavirus has pushed up prices on hand sanitizer and surgical face masks by at least 50% on Amazon. Consumers are paying the price.

According to a report by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group released Wednesday, the sky-high prices weren’t isolated to third-party sellers. While Amazon has said it was cracking down on price gouging on its vast online shelves, the retail giant was marking up prices, too, the report found.

“In these times when people are so concerned about their health and the risk of catching this virus, I think the only way to protect their shoppers is for them to cap prices,” Adam Garber, a consumer watchdog for the group, told USA TODAY.

The consumer advocacy organization compared the average prices for hand sanitizers and surgical masks before and after the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency on Jan. 30. According to the report, the average high price of surgical masks was 166% higher than the 90-day average price.

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