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18 Mar, 2020 16:12

Trump invokes defense production act to fight against coronavirus and lack of medical supplies

Trump invokes defense production act to fight against coronavirus and lack of medical supplies

US President Donald Trump has said that he will activate an old wartime act to force American industry to produce essential medical supplies to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. Trump promised “total victory” over the deadly virus.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Trump announced that he would be activating the Defense Production Act of 1950. The act, written at the outbreak of the Korean War, gives the federal government power to instruct manufacturers to make much-needed equipment, in this case protective masks and ventilators.

“Every generation of Americans has been called to make shared sacrifices for the good of the nation,” Trump said, comparing the efforts to beat the COVID-19 coronavirus to the mass mobilization seen during World War II.

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The Trump administration was reportedly weighing invoking the act as far back as February, when the US announced its first non-traceable case of the COVID-19 coronavirus. However, the government’s failure to roll out mass testing for the virus has led to calls from Democrats to activate the wartime legislation, to ensure the US is prepared for the demand placed on the healthcare system.

Trump also announced that two hospital ships would be deployed to house coronavirus patients, one moored in New York and another on the west coast. The Empire state has the biggest number of cases so far.

Though Trump did not state what kind of equipment the Defense Production Act will be used to produce, masks and ventilators are the most likely candidates. Health And Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in February that the US needs a stockpile of around 300 million n95 face masks, and was at the time around 288 million short. In a speech to the Senate before Trump’s conference, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer singled out ventilator shortages as a “massive problem.”

The epidemic has reached all 50 states and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Wednesday reported an increase of 2,812 cases from its previous count to 7,087 cases, with death toll rising by 22 to 97. Worldwide, more than 208,000 cases have been recorded since the virus first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan before Christmas.

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