Rein in the Regs to Beat Coronavirus

Shoshana Weissmann

As all levels of government work to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and treat those who are already sick, there are small but significant steps that can be taken to improve access to vital care and to make it easier to live a normal life, even while social distancing or under quarantine.

Regulatory reform has a key role to play. The biggest failure so far in the U.S. response to the coronavirus—the unavailability of widespread testing—resulted in part from regulatory problems. As the Atlantic reported, while private-sector U.S. labs were eager to help, “they were hamstrung by regulations for most of February.” Until that time, as the Wall Street Journal reported, “only the CDC was authorized to conduct tests, some of which turned out to be inaccurate. The CDC says it has since remedied those issues.”

Although government officials have in recent weeks started to waive regulations because of the public health emergency, there are still others that should be waived—a fact that should lead us to think seriously about whether they are necessary at all. Some of the waived regulations should be eliminated, or statutorily repealed, after the crisis is over.

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