California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order over the weekend prevent price gouging on at-home COVID-19 test kits, his office announced.
The governor’s order prohibits sellers from hiking prices of the test kits by more than 10%.
The action comes amid an omicron-driven COVID-19 surge that has left residents queuing in long lines at testing sites in parts of California and rushing to buy rapid test kits only to find them sold out at many stores and pharmacies.
Newsom’s order, meant to improve access to tests at a fair price, will help the California Department of Justice, the Attorney General’s Office, local district attorneys and law enforcement agencies take action against price gougers.
Stores like Walgreens, CVS and Walmart have been limiting sales of the at-home COVID-19 rapid test kits, which have been in high demand since before the holidays.
The kits, which let people test themselves for the virus, are available without a prescription and provide results within minutes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has touted using at-home tests as one of the ways community members can reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
With tests becoming scarce, officials have been warning about fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits popping up online, or highly sought-after tests being resold online at a mark-up.
At-home COVID-19 tests available at U.S. stores include Abbott BinaxNOW, Acon FlowFlex, Quidel Quickvue, Ellume and Pixel by LabCorp. Here are full lists of the FDA’s antigen diagnostic tests and molecular diagnostic tests that have been authorized for home use.
The executive order to prevent price hikes follows Newsom’s deployment of more than 200 Cal Guard members to expand capacity at 50 testing sites around the state.
The governor also proposed a $2.7 billion COVID-19 emergency response package that includes $1.2 billion to bolster testing efforts with expanded capacity at testing sites.