Trump invokes Defense Production Act as coronavirus response

Taken from The Hill

By JESSIE HELLMANN

March 18, 2020

President Trump announced Wednesday that he will invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA), which would allow the administration to force American industry to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Hospitals, health workers and state and local officials have said they are quickly running out of personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, gowns and gloves, that are crucial to keeping doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic safe.

“There’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it’s not enough,” Trump said at a White House briefing with reporters.

“If we need to use it, we’ll be using it at full speed ahead,” he said.

Hospitals are also sounding the alarm on the lack of ventilators, or breathing machines, that are expected to be in high demand as the coronavirus spreads in the coming weeks and months.

Democrats in Congress, hearing about shortages of supplies from hospitals in their states and districts, have urged Trump to invoke the DPA to direct the domestic production of necessary medical equipment.

“This would ensure we have the materials we need at the ready, rather than wait for disruptions in the global supply chain to subside,” 57 House Democrats wrote in a letter to Trump last week.

The issue of supply shortages is likely to come up during the president’s discussions with nurses and doctors Wednesday.

Supply chains are extremely strained due to tariffs on China, the main supplier of medical goods to the U.S.

While the Trump administration has recently taken some action to ease those tariffs, China and other countries are also blocking exports of those products as they seek to combat the pandemic within their borders.

Of top concern to health workers in the U.S. is the shortage of N95 respirators, which are viewed as more effective at blocking viruses than the looser-fitting surgical masks.

Read more here.