Trump Administration May Invoke Defense Production Act For Coronavirus
The Defense Production Act was created in 1950 to expand the production of certain supplies needed for National Defense during the Korean War – in the case of the Coronavirus, that includes test kits, protective gear, and H5 medical masks, among other things. It was amended in September 2009 and is currently active. The Trump administration is considering invoking the Act to create more protective gear against COVID-19.
California, for example is monitoring 8,400 people who recently traveled overseas, but they only have 200 test kits for the COVID-19 virus. Gov Newsom has stated he is in contact with federal agencies to send more kits to the state. (Reuters)
The H5 masks that actually filter the virus are in short supply nearly everywhere, as many countries have been hoarding them.
The Wall Street Journal reported,
“Hospitals and public-health officials in the U.S. and Europe are rationing medical masks and scrounging for more, as they prepare for a potential widening of the coronavirus epidemic.
Global hoarding has left European wholesalers with empty shelves. Manufacturers outside China say they won’t be able to fill an exploding stack of orders for months. U.S. hospitals and medical-supply companies have reported dwindling mask inventory and partial or delayed shipments as the surge in global demand for protective equipment enters a second month.”
The use of the law, passed by Congress in 1950 at the outset of the Korean War, would mark an escalation of the administration’s response to the outbreak. The virus first surfaced in China and has since spread to other countries including the United States.
U.S. health officials have told Americans to begin preparing for the spread of the virus in the United States.
The law grants the president the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security and other reasons. The biggest producers of face masks in the United States include 3M Corp and Honeywell International Inc.
The hope is that the US would be able to “aggressively” produce the items needed ahead of a major outbreak in the United States.
“Let’s say ‘Company A’ makes a multitude of respiratory masks but they spend 80% of their assembly lines on masks that painters wear and only 20% on the N95,” a White House official told Reuters on background. “We will have the ability to tell corporations, ‘No, you change your production line so it is now 80% of the N95 masks and 20% of the other.” Daily Wire
The Trump administration launched a Coronavirus task force over a month ago, and immediately instituted actions to attempt to top the virus from spreading in the United States. Flights from China were banned, and airlines were encouraged to stop flights to the country. Protocols for infectious diseases have been ramped up across the country. Numerous other preparations are being taken, including the possibility of invoking that Defense Production Act. The Coronavirus Task Force is being overseen by Alex Azar, Secretary of HHS, and numerous others, including Vice President Pence.
Featured photo: President Trump, joined by Vice President Pence and members of the Coronavirus Task Force, speaks to members of the press | February 26, 2020 (White House photo)