My oh my, how time has flown. The Federal Emergency Management Agency imposed COVID-19-related export controls on certain types personal protective equipment back in April 2020. This temporary rule was set to expire on August 10. Instead, FEMA has extended the expiration date, through December 31, 2020.
The Federal Register notice also both added and removed some items. Now included are Level 3 and 4 Surgical Gowns and Surgical Isolation Gowns that meet listed specifications, because “domestic supply is not meeting demand.”
On the other hand, the restriction on N95 filtering facepiece respirators is now limited to surgical respirators, with industrial ones deleted. Coverage of gloves is now limited to nitrile exam and surgical gloves meeting FDA standards, “and other such nitrile gloves intended for the same purposes”; “latex and vinyl examination and surgical gloves” have been taken off. Also removed were “other filtering facepiece respirators” and “elastomeric, air purifying respirators and appropriate particulate filters/cartridges.” Supplies of these excluded items are now sufficient to meet domestic demand.
On a somewhat related point, the Department of Health and Human Services has extended its own temporary designations of “scarce” COVID-19 equipment until January 19, 2021. Its list was expanded as well, to now include “laboratory reagents and materials used for isolation of viral genetic material and testing,” “drug products currently recommended by the NIH COVID–19 Treatment Guidelines Panel”, and “alcohol-based hand sanitizer and rubs.”
The HHS listing identifies items flagged to prevent hoarding or excessive price levels. Products on it are not subject to export controls, although there is some overlap with the FEMA control list and FEMA has discretion to add one or more of the items designated by HHS.
Anyway, here’s hoping that conditions improve to the point that neither FEMA nor HHS need to extend their temporary regulations again.