As alarm continues to mount over the rapid spread of COVID-19, many are increasingly desperate for items that can help neutralize the virus on surfaces and skin. Some merchants are taking advantage of this by inflating prices, which is particularly troublesome during a public health crisis.

During his coronavirus press briefing on Saturday, Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed price gouging, as some businesses have been spotted jacking up prices on difficult-to-find items like hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.

"If you are a store, you can lose your license and we are very serious about this," Cuomo said. "For the few dollars that you are going to make during this situation it is not worth your while. It is not just price gouging. It is price gouging in an emergency situation where you are being exploitive of the public."

Cuomo, who declared a State of Emergency on Saturday, highlighted that there are also "specific legal provisions for price gouging in an emergency situation," and urged New Yorkers to report businesses that are charging more for these items. He also directed the New York State Department of State's Consumer Protection Division to launch an investigation into any reported unfair price increases on household cleaning supplies and hand sanitizer amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

New Yorkers can call this number to report price gouging: 1-800-697-1220.

On Monday, Cuomo announced that New York State prison inmates are now manufacturing hand sanitizer for the state— "It’s much cheaper to make it ourselves than to buy it on the open market," Cuomo said, referring to an incarcerated workforce that's paid 65 cents an hour on average. A press release late clarified, "To help combat price-gouging and ensure New Yorkers have access to this vital prevention method, the state will produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer each week in 1.7 oz., 7 oz. and gallon bottles. The hand sanitizer will be made available to residents free of charge, and distribution will be prioritized by the most impacted and high risk communities, including the New Rochelle community, and state agencies, including the MTA." It was not immediately clear how New Yorkers can get the free hand sanitizer, but we'll update once that information becomes available.

For now, citizens of New York who are looking to have a stash to carry around the city are met with either empty shelves or high prices. The above photo was taken at Altru Chemists Pharmacy on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint this past weekend, announcing that Purell is back in stock and you can have some if you're willing to shell out $22.99 for a 12 oz bottle, which would typically cost closer to $6.

We called Altru, and an employee told us they didn't have Purell so this claim could not be true. When pressed with the photographic evidence of the price gouging, he said he would get a manager. The phone then went dead.

According to another photo we received, City Fresh on Broadway in Astoria is charging $19.99 for a canister of disinfectant spray, which is around a $15 markup. Christine Mattheis saw this display, and says the friend she was with called 311 to report it. The 311 operator "thanked her and said it might be a few days before anything happens."

We called City Fresh Market and an employee told us they are now selling it for $14.99, and explained that they had to get the product from a new distributor who charged them $9.99 per canister. The employee declined to identify the new distributor.

Another tipster saw masks at a 99-cent shop in Woodside (pictured above) for "10 pcs for $16 or 50 pcs for $75." The former pricing was for "sample masks."

Kyle wrote in to say he "saw some pretty egregious price gouging in Chinatown yesterday at The Hong Kong Supermarket on Bowery," where they were selling masks "for over $200 a box." He added, "They were the only store I've seen in weeks that still has face masks in stock, and they had a lot."

The State of Emergency provides a "clear basis for price gouging and enforcement investigation," and the law in New York states that selling "goods and services vital and necessary for the health, safety and welfare of consumers" at an "unconscionably excessive price" (as determined by the court) during a declared state of emergency can lead to a penalty.

On Sunday, Mayor Bill de Blasio used Scheman & Grant in Midtown as an example.

They have been fined. What they did was unacceptable. We're using them as an example. The inspectors have been on site. The case has been referred to the Attorney General as well. Any price gouging, we want reported immediately to 3-1-1 so we can act on it. And just saying to all store owners, absolutely unacceptable. Come on, this is a crisis. Help your fellow New Yorker, this is not a time to try and profit. And we'll be giving plenty of messages to people in different elements of the business community about how to be responsible at this moment.

Here are some more outrageous prices spotted around town recently: