MINOT, N.D. — A lot is going on right now, thanks to coronavirus.
The response to the COVID-19 outbreak has knocked us off our routines. The kids are home from school. Many of us aren't going into the office. Everyone from the principal of your local school to the governor to the president of the United States is bombarding us with information.
It's a lot to take in.
Here's one thing to think about, if you find yourself with an idle moment.
A response the government has taken to this situation is to waive required compliance with certain regulations. The idea is that the needs of the moment trump the need for these rules.
Maybe, once we put coronavirus in the rearview mirror (we will, my friends, we will), we can review whether or not these rules should be reimplemented at all.
If we didn't need them amid a national crisis, do we need them at all?
Washington is kicking around ideas for how to help the economy recover from the blow COVID-19 has dealt it. A lot of the ideas —stimulus spending, price controls, etc. — aren't great.
Cutting through red tape? That's a good idea.
The folks at Americans for Tax Reform are keeping a continuously-updated list of regulations waived at the state and federal level if you want to get a handle on what I'm talking about.
- The FDA is allowing states to take responsibility for approving coronavirus tests within their borders
- The Department of Transportation is giving commercial truck drivers transporting loads like food and medical supplies greater flexibility
- The U.S. Department of Health is allowing physicians, licensed in one state, to practice in that same license area in another state (as long as that state hasn't specifically barred them)
- The Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) is allowing larger bottles of hand sanitizer on planes
- The Department of Health has waived restrictions on telehealth services, allowing medical professionals more considerable latitude to meet with patients remotely
- Texas is allowing alcohol and groceries to be delivered in the same trucks
- States like Colorado and Tennessee are instituting medical license reciprocity policies
I could continue, but you get the point.
One thing that could help, not just with our ability to stay safe and comfortable as COVID-19 runs its course but our ability to recover as a society after, is our policymakers identifying which rules and regulations might be inhibiting our response to this situation, which of those may be safely waived, and once waived how many need to come back at all.
I hope officials here in North Dakota, starting with Gov. Doug Burgum, can find time to focus on this.
It's hard to use the term "silver lining" about something like coronavirus because there isn't one. Not really. But if we could squint our eyes and pretend there might be, a trashing of unnecessary red tape could be it.
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Rob Port, founder of SayAnythingBlog.com, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.