WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday said he would invoke the Defense Production Act, a law that gives the federal government sweeping power to ramp up manufacturing capacity during a national crisis, as a response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The law could allow the president to effectively force private companies to manufacture specific goods necessary to the government’s efforts to stem the pandemic. Already, health experts have expressed concerns about shortages of drugs and of personal protective equipment that medical workers rely on to deliver care.

The move follows calls from top lawmakers, including Sen. Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), the top Democrat in the Senate, to invoke the law to ramp up production of needed medical supplies.

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It was not immediately clear, however, how the Trump administration would wield the new authority. In a press conference, Trump said he was invoking the law “just in case we need it.”

Trump said his administration aimed to ramp up production for ventilators, “millions” of masks, and “certain pieces of equipment,” though he did not specify what the government’s specific needs were, or what quantity of supplies the White House hoped could be produced.

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Trump also said he would deploy two Navy hospital ships to American cities hard-hit by cases of coronavirus and the respiratory disease it causes, known as Covid-19. One, the USS Mercy, will be deployed to New York, Trump said. The president said his administration would soon decide where on the West Coast to deploy the other ship, the USS Comfort, which is based in San Diego.

“We’ve also alerted a variety of field and expeditionary hospitals to be prepared to deploy as well, as needed, based on direction from the commander in chief,” said defense secretary Mark Esper.

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The Pentagon, Esper said, was moving forward with plans to donate 5 million respirator masks and up to 2,000 ventilators to the health department. Esper said the first 1 million masks would be available immediately.

The White House also rolled out an array of new changes meant to stem the pandemic. The Department of Health and Human Services was waiving regulations that limit doctors to practicing medicine only in the state where they’re licensed.

The regulation, said Vice President Mike Pence, “will allow all doctors and medical professionals to practice across state lines to meet the needs of hospitals that may arise in adjoining areas.”

Pence also urged the public to delay upcoming elective medical procedures to ensure that hospitals and health care providers maintain capacity for the expected onslaught of severe coronavirus cases. He urged hospitals to do the same proactively.

“We are again, today, asking every American and our medical community leaders and hospitals to partner with us in delaying elective procedures across the country in our health care system to ensure that medical supplies and medical capacity go where they’re needed most,” he said.

  • I would assume the NYC garment industry could easily start making medical masks. Yet I don’t hear anything about any company converting to making medical supplies.
    Who in the Trump admin. is the point person to coordinate such an effort?

    • Too late. New York is shut down as of noon today. Everyone is to stay home except essential personnel.

  • The public health department is getting the mask…who gets them after that? EMS services, first responders, prison guards and police departments are in dire need of these (especially Rural ones). They are getting very little attention over the hospitals. These are the people who are most likely to be exposed to highly contagious situations (entering peoples homes, being in small spaces with them ex. squad cars and ambulances). Hospitals seem better stocked and prepared and can use mitigation to extend life of products (ex using 1 mask for a shift) whereas these other organizations might not have any at all!

    • These people will not be doing invasive procedure that aerosol the virus. This will be done in the hospital by the doctors which is why doctors first need the N95 masks which filter out aerosol particles. Other people can be protected with a regular mask per the CDC.

    • In response to Katrina who does not think anyone needs PPE except nurses and doctors: That is an utterly incorrect assumption. EMTs/Paramedics do perform invasive procedures (intubation/CPAP/breathing treatments/suction and other aerosolizing procedures) in which they need N95s. They also transport and manage patients on vents/etc. Other first responders are simply looking for basic surgical mask for transporting patients and cannot find them. It amazes me how many medical professional’s do not understand the scope of EMS services and think first responders are simply ambulance drivers. Ugh. Please stop assuming Nurses and Doctors are the only people who need protection. It is uneducated to say they do not and it’s dangerous to continue to spread miss information.Furthermore my call for PPE for first responders includes basic surgical mask and paper gowns which are also very hard to find, not just N95s.

  • Nothing can be better than invoking the Defence Production Act by the President Trump, and those countries which do not have the said Act, shall take the cue from the USA, and implement the same to save the world from the biggest catastrophe of the present times. Life is Precious And You Only Live Once.

  • The definitive comment on this sort of blundering overreach is John L. Lewis to Harry Truman,’s “You can’t dig coal with bayonets.”

    Trump is a guy who can’t even touch property, his family’s business, without destroying the family fortune. The idea that he can manufacture anything is just a giggle.

  • Cowardly General Bonespurs. Shifty Don the Con is so full of crap America ran out of toilet paper. When Don the Cons serial lies are no longer working go to the grifters next trick, bribery. But always with someone else’s money. Remember these, be sure to click the little speaker lower right corner. https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=518864188819653

  • ThE action China took – after 2 months of burrying their outbreak – should have been followed 2 months ago by any country to where this virus spread – because it is so potent, and we don’t and won’t for a long time have any real recourse against it. The number of deaths for material shortage will be horrific, and the world leaders and the WHO can take the full blame for this weak-spined delay. STAY HOME, EVERYONE !!!!! You don’t want to end up drowning as your lungs fill – it is a horrible death. Spare each other this ordeal. To any business now affected by this presidential decree: THANK YOU for whatever you can or are forced to do – for all of man-kind.

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