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Governor Newsom Signs Executive Order Prohibiting Price Gouging Of At-Home COVID-19 Test Kits

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) - As Los Angeles, much like the rest of the state, continues to see record-breaking new daily COVID-19 infections as a result of Omicron and an increased demand for testing, Governor Gavin Newsom's office on Saturday announced a new executive order aimed at price-gouging for coronavirus tests.

People line up for Covid-19 screening at a testing and vaccination site at a public school in Los Angeles, California, January 5, 2022. - The United States reported more than one million new Covid-19 cases on January 4 after the long New Year's weekend, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, as the Omicron variant spread at a blistering pace. (Photo by Robyn Beck / AFP) (Photo by ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The executive order, according to the press release, is meant to establish consumer protections as more and more people seek at-home tests.

"Helping to improve access to these tests at a fair price, the order generally prohibits sellers from increasing prices on COVID-19 At-Home Test Kits by more than 10 percent," the release read.

The order also provides tools for the California Department of Justice and Attorney General's Office, district attorneys and other local law enforcement to take action against any person or outlet who might increase the prices of testing kits illegally.

Saturday's executive order comes on the heels of the governor's announcement Friday that he's activating some 200 members of Cal Guard to help expand capacity at 50 testing sites around the state, including several Southland testing facilities.

Earlier on Saturday, Newsom's administration also unveiled a proposed $2.7 billion COVID-19 Emergency Response Package that includes a $1.4 billion emergency appropriation request to increase testing capacity, speed vaccination and booster efforts, support frontline workers, strengthen the healthcare system and combat misinformation.

"From day one, California has taken swift and direct action to battle COVID-19 with policies that have saved tens of thousands of lives, but there's more work to be done," Newsom said in the release.

Some political analysts say the fact that the federal government will reimburse the state for most of these COVID-related expenses is a plus for Newsom's proposal.

Though a sticking point, even for California Democrats, may be a proposed state law requiring companies to give workers more paid sick days if they are diagnosed with COVID-19. Right now, it's unclear how or even if employers would get reimbursed or receive tax credits for that, like they did last year.

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