Panicked Hudson Valley shoppers and unscrupulous profiteers looking to make a quick buck are buying up needed supplies throughout the region.

Empty shelves greeted customers at Shoprite in Poughkeepsie on Friday. The scene has become a familiar sight throughout the Hudson Valley for people who need to purchase Clorox wipes or hand sanitizer. Those items, as well as over a half dozen more, were all missing at most local stores this weekend.

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The threat of coronavirus has caused some people to feel the need to hoard items, while more devious shoppers see the outbreak as an opportunity for profit. A Facebook Marketplace listing in Newburgh showed just how ugly things are getting. Seller Nicole Oliver was charging $175 for a small bottle of hand sanitizer, a bottle of soap, one container each of Wet Ones and Clorox wipes, face masks and a jug of water. The actual retail value of this package was just around $25. The posting attempted to panic people into unnecessarily spending too much on the items by insisting they "get it before supplies run out!" Another seller was offering a "partially used" bottle of hand sanitizer for $75.

On Sunday, Governor Cuomo announced a zero-tolerance policy for price gouging connected to coronavirus. The NYDOS is investigating reports of unfair price increases by businesses, but that will do little to stop individuals from taking advantage of people on social media.

To help make sure that supplies are available for customers that really need them, local stores have now begun to institute limits on certain items. Shoprite in Poughkeepsie is now only allowing customers to purchase four of each product listed below:

  • Fever reducing medicine
  • alcohol, peroxide and witch hazel
  • gloves and masks
  • hand sanitizers and wipes
  • bleach
  • disinfectant sprays
  • liquid and bar soap
  • bottled water
  • household cleaning wipes and sprays
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Stop and Shop has also put limits of five on certain items including wipes and sanitizers. Other stores have similar restrictions on items, but it doesn't seem to be helping. The fear is that since these items are sold out, panicked shoppers will move on to other necessities like toilet paper.

Of course, hoarding these materials is unnecessary. There are still plenty of supplies being produced and stocking up on them won't prevent you from contracting coronavirus. But that isn't stopping people from spreading fear on social media, making residents think they need to hoard these items.

Have you had trouble finding certain items in the Hudson Valley? Let us know how you're coping with the temporary shortages in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.

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