Media coverage of price gouging during the COVID-19 pandemic has focused predominantly on individuals hoarding much-needed supplies and reselling them for high prices online. State price gouging laws are designed to prevent such actions—they exist to prevent sellers from taking advantage of consumers during a temporary state of emergency. Typically triggered by natural disasters, they often have a short life span.
Such laws were not designed to deal with the length and national scope of the current pandemic. As states of emergency continue, law-abiding businesses and consumers are suffering unintended consequences.