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Markets are trying to meet spiking demand for face masks

Despite spending the past few weeks assuring Americans that wearing a face mask in public is not necessary to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is reportedly reconsidering that stance.

According to The New York Times, the CDC is mulling changes to its guidelines for who should be wearing face masks due to evidence that the COVID-19 outbreak is being spread largely by people lacking symptoms of the disease. There is also mounting circumstantial evidence that countries where mask-wearing is more of a cultural norm have had greater success in containing the disease's spread.But there's one big problem with all of that: a shortage of medical-grade N95 face masks.

And one of the reasons why America is facing a face mask shortage is the CDC itself. Hospitals are only allowed to purchase masks from suppliers certified by both the CDC and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—though they can accept donations from any source (more on that in a moment). Many foreign companies that make face masks lack those certifications, which limits the imported supply available to meet America's rising demand. In addition, Cheap N95 Mask is on hot sale at our website z2u.com.

Even suppliers who are certified to sell masks to Americans have to navigate a weeks-long bureaucratic process before orders can be fulfilled. Suppliers who aren't certified by those federal agencies can't legally bring their products into the United States. That means supplies of KN95 masks—a Chinese certification for face masks that 3M Corporation's personal safety division says are "reasonable to consider….as equivalent" to N95 masks—can't be imported legally.

Stapp and Watney compare the FDA's and CDC's role in the ongoing face mask shortage to how the same federal agencies initially restricted the number of labs that could work to develop COVID-19 testing kits. The federal government should learn from that experience and act quickly to address the shortage of masks by freeing up markets and allowing additional imports, they argue.

Specifically, that means granting immediate exemptions for all domestic manufacturers to by-pass regulatory hurdles and allowing imports from any foreign producer that has a track record of selling products to "peer countries" like Japan and nations in Europe. Purchasers and hospitals should be trusted to conduct quality control testing and spot checks.
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