N95 masks were $1.25 six weeks ago, now they’re $7-$11. Price gouging puts lives at risk. [Opinion]

Just six weeks ago, large academic hospital systems like mine paid $1.25 for an N95 mask. Simple in their design and manufacturing, these masks are an effective tool for keeping clinicians and patients safe from the transmission of infectious diseases. With COVID-19 pummeling the nation, procuring these masks has become one of the most important things we do in a day. Sadly, this same mask now costs hospitals between $7- $11 apiece. If a large hospital system needs one million of them, it will cost more than $7 million. And surgical masks? They used to cost 7 cents — now they’re about $3 a piece. Just when we need masks the most, price gouging is rampant.

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