President Trump has just announced that he will invoke the Defense Production Act, which would allow the administration to force American industry to ramp up production of medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
“It can do a lot of good things if we need it,” Trump said during a White House briefing with reporters.
The president added, “Right after we finish this conference, I’ll be signing it and it’s prepared to go,” Trump said.
Trump said the hospital ships “Mercy” and “Comfort” would also be called up to be used where they are most needed.
CNN reported last month that the Trump administration was considering using the 1950 wartime law to expand the production of masks and protective gear to prevent the spread of the virus.
Hospitals and states have pleaded with the administration for more supplies to protect doctors and nurses on the frontlines of the pandemic.
Many health workers have said they are quickly running out of personal protective equipment, like the masks and gowns that are crucial to ensuring they don’t get sick. 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.
More than 200,000 cases of the coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide, including 6,500 cases in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University. Of the 115 people who have died in the U.S., most were elderly or had underlying health conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines this week recommending people avoid gatherings of more than 10 people and work from home if possible.
In the last few weeks, city and state officials across the country have moved to limit public gatherings, including at restaurants, bars and other establishments, which is intended to slow the spread of the virus but has dented the economy.