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City attorney warns of coronavirus-related price gouging

Price gouging can be reported to the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the City Attorney's Office, at 619-533-5800, and online.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — The City Attorney's Office warned San Diegans Friday of price gouging amid global worries about the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Gov. Gavin Newsom declared a state of emergency in California on Wednesday in response to the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, that originated in China and has now spread to dozens of countries.

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Overcharging for consumer goods such as medical supplies, food, gas and other essentials during an emergency is illegal under state law, which prohibits charging a price more than 10% higher than the price prior to the declaration of a state of emergency.

"We are committed to protecting consumers from those who prey on them during a public health crisis," said City Attorney Mara W. Elliott. "San Diegans shouldn't have to worry about being cheated when taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy and prevent the spread of novel coronavirus. We are taking reports of price gouging seriously, and will hold accountable those who violate the law."

In San Diego County, health authorities Thursday announced a presumptively positive case in Chula Vista and are awaiting confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

On Feb. 14, the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declared a seven-day local health emergency and expanded that to a 30-day local health emergency on Feb. 19 after a patient at UC San Diego Health was mistakenly sent back to quarantine at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar after testing positive for COVID-19.

Price gouging can be reported to the Affirmative Civil Enforcement Unit of the City Attorney's Office, at 619-533-5800 and complaints can be filed at www.sandiego.gov/cityattorney/divisions/civillitigation/civilprosecution.

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