The idea that a free and mostly privatized society would let pandemics rage unchecked is based on a crude caricature. The truth is that a free society offers flexibility and resilience that a centralized system lacks.
Anti–price gouging laws mean that those who really end up getting the short end of the stick are those who don't have the time or the means to beat the crowds to the store. Worse off are those of lesser means who rely on public transportation or walking to transport groceries home.
Despite the fact that the CDC’s formal name includes the word “Prevention” and that its stated goals include various planning buzzwords, its managing of the COVID-19 response has been an unmitigated disaster.