Trump turns to Defense Production Act in fight against coronavirus

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

To prevent the problem of medical supply shortages, The Hill is reporting that President Donald Trump has pulled the trigger on activating the Defense Production Act, a Korean-war era law that allows the president to direct the private sector to produce critical supplies. 

Protecting the supply chains

The legislation was first put into place in 1950 to help deal with shortages of military supplies for the Korean War. At the time, the country was only five years removed from World War II and was still replenishing its stockpiles from that conflict.

President Trump has likened the battle against the coronavirus to war, a war against an invisible enemy. The entire country seems to be hitting the panic button over shortages of masks for medical personnel, respirators, and the like.

Trump signed an executive order invoking the law on Wednesday but said on Friday that he has actually put the law “into gear” after immense pressure to actually activate the powers within the act.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is now authorized by the order to determine “the proper nationwide priorities” and to distribute medical resources to the areas most in need.

Manufacturers step up

Trump tweeted soon after signing the executive order invoking the Defense Production Act that he would only activate it in the “worst-case scenario.” One of the reasons for that statement is that so many manufacturers have already stepped up to the plate without having to receive orders from the government.

For instance, CNN recently reported that Ford, GM, and Tesla have already contacted the White House with offers to make ventilators, one of the most critical components of COVID-19 treatment.

Carnival Cruise Lines has offered to lend its ships to be used as emergency medical ships if needed. During Saturday’s press conference, President Trump announced that several distilleries have already started to make hand sanitizer to make up for the shortage of supply.

From recent reports, a shortage of N95 masks for medical workers presents is also hampering our coronavirus response. That, however, should be taken care of as consumer and safety goods manufacturer 3M has gone into overdrive to fill the gap.

The media continued to press Trump on invoking the act further and he again stated that if needed, additional steps will be taken. However, he believes that at this point, manufacturers have stepped up on their own to meet the need.

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