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Puerto Rico orders price freeze on condoms

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BEIJING - JULY 11: Detail of clothing material made from condoms and worn by a model during the 4th China Reproductive Health New Technologies and Products Expo at the Beijing Exhibition Centre on July 11, 2007 in Beijing, China. The organizers hope the exhibition will promote the use of condoms for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases as well as a means of contraception. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

Condom prices in Puerto Rico are cheap and aren’t going up any time soon.

The government of Puerto Rico has ordered a price freeze on condoms in an effort to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

Any store that hikes prices to try to capitalize on people’s fears of the virus will be fined up to $10,000. Other items on the price-freeze list: insect repellent, hand sanitizer and tissues.

Puerto Rico has had 9 confirmed cases of the Zika virus so far, according to the Centers for Disease Control. That’s more than any other state or U.S. territory. Puerto Rico’s Department of Health says there have been 63 confirmed cases, including three pregnant women. The island’s governor has declared a public health emergency.

It’s just one of many crises in Puerto Rico right now. Home values are plunging on the island, people are fleeing because of the terrible economy, and the government is massively in debt.

The U.S. Congress is trying to figure out what to do about the island’s woes. There are more hearings scheduled on Thursday over Puerto Rico’s $70 billion debt problem.

“Puerto Rico has so many problems,” says island resident Ivette Cruzado. She’s an engineer and vice president of Animal Rescue Foundation of Rincón, a group that is trying to address the island’s stray dog crisis.

The price gauging ban went into effect at the end of January on mosquito repellents. Condoms were added to the list in early February after Texas confirmed the first case of the transmission of the Zika virus from sexual intercourse. There haven’t been any retailer violations so far.

“The price freeze remains in effect until after the emergency is over,” Nery Adames, Secretary of the Department of Consumer Affairs, tells CNN.

This is the first time his department has ever put a price freeze on “prophylactics,” a technical term for condoms. The department was established in 1973.

The average price for one condom on the island is $1.66 and $24.49 for a pack of 24, according to the Department of Consumer Affairs. That’s slightly higher than prices quoted on Amazon.com for a 24-pack of condoms, but prices vary by style and brand.

Condoms are subject to the island’s 11.5% sales tax, one of the highest in the nation.