Responding without hesitation and using the full authority he has under law and the Constitution, President Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked legislation passed during the Korean War to commandeer a portion of U.S. industry responsible for producing increasingly scarce healthcare items.
The president invoked the Defense Production Act in response to the widening Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, in addition to instructing the department of Housing and Urban Development to suspend foreclosures through the end of April while work progresses on evaluating the potential for virus self-testing.
The DPA is the principle presidential authority to speed up and expand the production of supplies and resources within the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space and homeland security programs and operations during times of national emergency.
As reported by Zero Hedge, Homeland Security programs and operations that are now eligible for support via the DPA include:
— Efforts to combat terrorism throughout the United States;
— Activities tied to emergency preparedness that fall under Title VI of the Stafford Act;
— Restoration and protection of critical infrastructure;
— Continuity of government.
Zero Hedge noted further:
Addressing the “Chinese virus,” Trump said that FEMA has been activated in “every region, at the highest level.”
The President also said that work is underway to evaluate whether a self-test is feasible. If possible, he says it would free up health professionals who are administering the test.
And importantly, the president noted that HUD will be “suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April.
‘There’s never been an instance like this’
Meanwhile, Vice President Mike Pence, whom the president put in charge of the government’s coronavirus response, noted that the virus has now spread to all 50 states.
And separately, Pence repeated the government’s earlier guidance that anyone who isn’t showing COVID-19 symptoms should not be getting tested. He added that the administration will be implementing a regulation that will allow doctors and other primary care professionals to practice across state lines, which will ensure that healthcare workers can move into hotspots without being hampered by red tape and licensing requirements.
Meanwhile, The Hill reported that hospitals, along with health care workers and officials at state and local levels, have been informing the administration they are running out of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gowns, and gloves which protect them from viral spread. (Related: Coronavirus deaths in the USA are EXCEEDING our original pandemic projection model by nearly 25%… see the shocking numbers that no one believed until now.)
“There’s never been an instance like this where no matter what you have it’s not enough,” the president said at the White House. “If we need to use it, we’ll be using it at full speed ahead.”
The Hill noted further:
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.
The Hill went on to imply — extremely dishonestly — that “supply chains are extremely strained due to tariffs on China, the main supplier of medical goods to the U.S.”
That is absolutely bogus. The tariffs imposed on China by President Trump did not lead to shortages of PPE in the U.S. They come from the fact that a sizable portion of the Chinese population has been quarantined for weeks, and the factories they work at idled, due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Now, at the same time, as The Hill correctly notes, China is blocking some shipments from the U.S. and other countries but not because of tariffs; they are keeping PPE supplies for themselves, which takes us back to the reason why President Trump invoked the DPA in the first place.
It’s hard to say how long it will take to ramp up PPE production in the U.S., but the fact that we’re running low in the first place proves — again — how important the president’s efforts to return lost industrial capacity back to our country really are.