Masks for All: Using Purchase Guarantees and Targeted Deregulation to Boost Production of Essential Medical Equipment

11 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020

See all articles by Caleb Watney

Caleb Watney

R Street Institute

Alec Stapp

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Date Written: April 8, 2020

Abstract

Demand has rapidly outstripped supply as the urgent need for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks, respirators, gloves, and gowns, as well as for ventilators, continues to grow apace with the COVID-19 global pandemic.

On April 3, the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their guidance to recommend that the public wear cloth face masks as a stopgap measure until the production of more effective medical masks (such as surgical masks and N95 respirators) can be scaled up. Therefore, government officials need to seriously evaluate the fastest strategy for substantially increasing supply.

According to estimates from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Strategic National Stockpile has about 35 million masks, amounting to only 1 percent of the number the United States will need for medical professionals alone, let alone for the general public, in the event of a full-blown pandemic in the United States. Heavy-handed government mandates may increase supply on the margin, but a more effective approach would be to unleash American industrial capacity through massive government purchase guarantees and the removal of liability risk and regulatory barriers.

Keywords: face masks, hospital supplies, medical equipment, healthcare, coronavirus, coronavirus pandemic, COVID-19, public health, economics, quarantine, economy, economic crisis

JEL Classification: H51, H75, I00, I13, I18

Suggested Citation

Watney, Caleb and Stapp, Alec, Masks for All: Using Purchase Guarantees and Targeted Deregulation to Boost Production of Essential Medical Equipment (April 8, 2020). Mercatus Special Edition Policy Brief, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3590717 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3590717

Caleb Watney (Contact Author)

R Street Institute ( email )

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#1150
Washington, DC 20036
United States
6202041127 (Phone)

Alec Stapp

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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