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Washington's attorney general warns of at-home COVID-19 test price gouging

First, it was masks and sanitizer, now it's at-home COVID tests. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says pandemic price-gouging is still a problem.

SEATTLE — First, it was masks and sanitizer, now it's at-home COVID-19 tests. 

Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson says pandemic price-gouging is still a problem.

Ferguson said his office responded to 1,300 complaints about price gouging last year. Now, with COVID tests sold out pretty much everywhere, the state wants people to report sellers taking advantage of the shortage to jack up prices of at-home kits.

A quick search on Craigslist reveals a second-hand market charging $60 to $90 for tests that cost about $15 in stores.

Ferguson’s office said businesses that raise prices on emergency goods to maximize profit during an emergency commit an unfair business practice, a violation of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.

Washington does not have a price-gouging law, though last year the attorney general tried to get the Legislature to pass one. The measure failed after opposition from business groups.

Ferguson is encouraging anyone who sees price gouging to snap a photo or take a screenshot and file a complaint.

While people scramble to find tests, state and federal officials are asking for patience, promising more are on their way.

The federal government just launched a website where you can sign up to have four free kits mailed to your home.

Washington is starting its own portal, where people can order four to five free tests per household.  The state’s portal will allow one testing kit per household, and each kit will provide four to five test. Kits are expected to be delivered to residents' households within one to two weeks of placing the order.

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