The U.S. Defense Production Act will help in the manufacturing of ventilators. Above, new ventilators are prepared at the Columbus Covid2 Hospital in Rome on Monday. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

Trump invokes Defense Production Act in response to COVID-19

Janet Nguyen Mar 18, 2020
The U.S. Defense Production Act will help in the manufacturing of ventilators. Above, new ventilators are prepared at the Columbus Covid2 Hospital in Rome on Monday. Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images

President Donald Trump declared on Wednesday that he will invoke the Defense Production Act, which grants him the authority to force companies to produce medical supplies needed to handle the coronavirus.

The Department of Defense also said it will give 5 million respirator masks and 2,000 ventilators to the Department of Health and Human Services. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that “the first 1 million masks will be made available immediately.”

In addition to signing the DPA, Trump plans to deploy two Navy hospital ships to assist cities affected by the outbreak, with the U.S. Naval Ship Comfort — which has 1,000 hospital beds — headed to New York.

There have been concerns over how well equipped hospitals are to handle the pandemic. In a statement to NBC News, the American Hospital Association said there are currently a limited supplies of ventilators and hospital beds.

During the conference, Trump called himself a “wartime president.” The Defense Production Act was first passed in response to the Korean War in 1950, and since then, Congress has gradually expanded the scope of the term “national defense.”

Presidents not only have the authority to shape the U.S. military’s capabilities, but they now also have the power to “enhance and support domestic preparedness, response, and recovery from natural hazards, terrorist attacks, and other national emergencies.”

On Friday, Trump declared the COVID-19 crisis a national emergency.

Correction (March 18, 2020): A previous headline misstated Trump’s plans regarding the Defense Protection Act. Trump invoked the DPA.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

New COVID-19 cases and deaths in the U.S. are on the rise. How are Americans reacting?

Johns Hopkins University reports the seven-day average of new cases hit 68,767 on Sunday  — a record — eclipsing the previous record hit in late July during the second, summer wave of infection. A funny thing is happening with consumers though: Even as COVID-19 cases rise, Americans don’t appear to be shying away from stepping indoors to shop or eat or exercise. Morning Consult asked consumers how comfortable they feel going out to eat, to the shopping mall or on a vacation. And their willingness has been rising. Surveys find consumers’ attitudes vary by age and income, and by political affiliation, said Chris Jackson, who heads up polling at Ipsos.

How many people are flying? Has traveled picked up?

Flying is starting to recover to levels the airline industry hasn’t seen in months. The Transportation Security Administration announced on Oct. 19 that it’s screened more than 1 million passengers on a single day — its highest number since March 17. The TSA also screened more than 6 million passengers last week, its highest weekly volume since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. While travel is improving, the TSA announcement comes amid warnings that the U.S. is in the third wave of the coronavirus. There are now more than 8 million cases in the country, with more than 219,000 deaths.

How are Americans feeling about their finances?

Nearly half of all Americans would have trouble paying for an unexpected $250 bill and a third of Americans have less income than before the pandemic, according to the latest results of our Marketplace-Edison Poll. Also, 6 in 10 Americans think that race has at least some impact on an individual’s long-term financial situation, but Black respondents are much more likely to think that race has a big impact on a person’s long-term financial situation than white or Hispanic/Latinx respondents.

Find the rest of the poll results here, which cover how Americans have been faring financially about six months into the pandemic, race and equity within the workplace and some of the key issues Trump and Biden supporters are concerned about.

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