Masks for All: Using Purchase Guarantees and Targeted Deregulation to Boost Production of Essential Medical Equipment
11 Pages Posted: 5 May 2020
Date Written: April 8, 2020
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: Suggested Citation