Trump Invokes Korean War-Era Defense Production Act as Part of Coronavirus Response


President Donald Trump will be invoking the Defense Production Act of 1950 to help with potential medical supply shortages in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Right after we finish this conference, I’ll be signing it and it’s prepared to go,” Trump said at a Wednesday morning news briefing at the White House.

“It can do a lot of good things if we need it and we will have it all completed, signing it in just a little while.”

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The Defense Production Act is a Korean War-era law that gives the president the authority to take action to force the American industry to ramp up production of certain critical equipment, according to The New York Times.

In response to COVID-19, some of the equipment could include ventilators, respirators and protective gear for health care workers.

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Some doctors and nurses are already short on medical equipment like gowns and gloves, as well as other supplies like N95 face masks and hand sanitizer, according to former U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, CNN reported.

In a Monday letter to the State Department, the Consumer Brands Association expressed concerns about other countries cutting off exports to the United States and the effect that could have on the current public health emergency.

“Absent early intervention, Consumer Brands fears that efforts by other countries to restrict the export of base materials, nutritional and food inputs, chemicals and other essential manufacturing supplies and ingredients will prevent manufacturers from being able to increase production, ultimately leading to consumers being unable to obtain products that are vital to treating and stopping the spread of COVID-19 and remaining healthy,” the letter read.

“In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we have already seen multiple countries enact restrictions on the export of base materials, chemicals, medical supplies and ingredients.

“If other countries were to follow suit by significantly disrupting the supply chain of these critical ingredients, it could substantially increase the risk of product shortages in the United States and thus pose a serious threat to the public health.”

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Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said Wednesday that the Defense Department will make 5 million respiratory masks and protective equipment from strategic reserves available to help with the supply shortages.

“The first 1 million masks will be available immediately,” he said.

A self-swab test for COVID-19 is also in production, Trump said, according to Politico.

During the media conference, Trump said that the Department of Housing and Urban Development would be “suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April” in order to provide “immediate relief to renters and homeowners.”

A military hospital ship, the USNS Comfort, is being dispatched to New York City to help provide relief to overwhelmed hospitals and health care workers.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith