Defense Production Act Invoked by Trump as Response to Coronavirus

On Wednesday, President Trump announced that he is invoking the Defense Production Act. This will allow the government to force American companies to manufacture medical supplies that are needed but in short supply.

Supplies like personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gowns, and gloves are running out fast.

“There’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it’s not enough,” Trump told reporters,  “If we need to use it, we’ll be using it at full speed ahead.”

The Hill reports:

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,” a letter to Trump from 57 House Democrats read.

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. 

In a letter sent to Vice President Mike Pence Tuesday, Dr. James Madara, the CEO and executive vice president of the American Medical Association, wrote that he is "deeply concerned" about the shortages.

"The AMA continues to hear from physicians across the country about short supplies and limited access to personal protective equipment (PPE), which is necessary to keep the health care workforce safe and to protect the health of patients," Madara said, "Physicians are reaching out to their state and local health departments, but their supplies of PPE are also inadequate."

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