Plenty of companies would love to retool factories idled or slowed by the crisis to manufacture goods that are now desperately needed, and so keep their employees working and money coming in. But they need regulators’ OK to produce this stuff — and that normally takes months.
Under heavy White House pressure, agencies are lifting barriers. But it was only late Thursday, for example, that the Food and Drug Administration waived some restrictions on the production and sale of surgical masks — more than two months after the first coronavirus case in the United States was confirmed, in Washington state on Jan. 20.
It’s the latest example of red tape gone awry that could prove deadly. It took weeks for the feds to waive regs even on coronavirus testing kits. For more than a month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention only allowed the use of its test — which proved to be inaccurate much of the time — even as companies were champing at the bit to produce better and faster kits.