Emergency Declaration Triggers Oklahoma's Price-Gouging Law

Mar 14, 2020

Credit Office of Attorney General

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump’s declaration Friday of a national emergency over the new coronavirus triggered an Oklahoma law that prohibits price-gouging, the state’s attorney general said.

Attorney General Mike Hunter said the law prohibits an increase of more than 10% in the price of goods or services during a declared emergency.

Trump also announced a new public-private partnership to increase national testing capabilities. Oklahoma used more than half its testing capacity Wednesday to test 58 members of the Utah Jazz basketball organization after a player tested positive. Those tests results showed one other player, Donovan Mitchell, also tested positive.

Oklahoma state epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed said it would have been too risky to transport the team back to Utah for testing without knowing who might be positive.

“We had to determine if we would need certain individuals to be chartered on one flight to go, versus some other individuals who need to be isolated and removed separately from the rest of the individuals so we minimize the continued transmission,” Burnsed said.

A spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Department of Health said the tests on the members of the Utah Jazz did not disrupt testing of any Oklahoma patient samples.

“The investigation involving the Utah Jazz team was a unique incident where we had a group of individuals that had extensive, close personal contact with each other, including contact to a presumptive positive case of the novel coronavirus,” said spokeswoman Jamie Dukes. “An investigation was conducted as part of understanding the potential risk of further transmission to other individuals.”

Besides the Jazz players, three Oklahomans have tested positive for the coronavirus: two Tulsa County residents who had traveled to Italy and an airman from Altus Air Force Base who had recently traveled to Seattle. Dr. Bruce Dart, executive director of the Tulsa Health Department, said the state’s first reported case, a man in his 50s, appears to have completely recovered from his illness.

Meanwhile, the Oklahoma Department of Corrections on Friday cancelled visitation and volunteer access to all prison facilities across the state in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The agency said in a statement its director will reassess the decision on a weekly basis.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority of people recover from the new virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild illness recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe illness may take three to six weeks to be over it.