HACKENSACK, N.J. – Following the announcement of two presumptive positive cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) in Bergen County this past week, the Division of Consumer Protection of Bergen and Passaic Counties is advising residents to be cognizant of the potential of price gouging on the purchases of various protective supplies.

Residents in either counties are being asked to report any merchants that “dramatically increase” prices on items such as surgical masks, gloves and sanitizing products from hand sanitizer to Lysol/Clorox wipes and sprays. Certain merchants might attempt to “take unfair advantage of a health emergency,” according to Bergen County Executive Jim Tedesco.  

Buyers should beware of price increases that constitute greater than 10 percent of what the items were pre-State of Emergency. Price gouging violations carry a hefty penalty of up to $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second and subsequent offenses.

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Consumers who suspect price gouging and other COVID-19-related fraud are being asked to contact the Division of Consumer Protection by calling 201-336-6400 and leave your name, contact information, nature of the complaint, and the name of the business and location.

This past week, health officials confirmed the first case of novel coronavirus in New Jersey was a 32-year-old Fort Lee man who has been receiving treated at Hackensack University Medical Center since his March 2 admittance. The second, a woman, also in her 30s, who was tested at Englewood Hospital and is isolated at home until the New Jersey Department of Health deems her medically cleared.

This week, Governor Murphy's administration announced immediate restrictions on state-related business travel for New Jersey employees. Since the confirmation of the two cases, the state on Wednesday suspended all international travel for state employees until further notice. What's more, all domestic out-of-state travel on state-related business must be approved by the Governor’s Office, including same-day travel.

“These two cases of COVID-19 do not come as a surprise, as our state has been prepared, for weeks, for the eventuality that one of our residents would test positive for the coronavirus,” said Acting Governor Sheila Oliver in a press release. “We put a plan in place for preparedness and rapid response and the threat to the public remains low.”