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.
BREAKING: Pres. Trump says “we’ll be invoking the Korean War era Defense Production Act”
This allows the federal government “to sign contracts or fulfill orders deemed necessary for national defense” — in this case, emergency medical supplies https://t.co/eoIhtnhfq4 pic.twitter.com/nfESAHYzmp
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 18, 2020
“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.”
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.
Defense Production Act—authorizes President to require businesses to sign contracts/fulfill orders necessary for national defense—establish regulations, orders, agencies to allocate materials—contro economy so scarce materials necessary to national defense effort are available.
— Daralene Jones (@DJonesWFTV) March 18, 2020
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.”
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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