Washington, D.C. – This week, President Trump has taken numerous steps in the battle against the coronavirus, or COVID-19. He took measures to eliminate FDA restrictions to speed up the response. Another one of those measures was authorizing the Defense Production Act.
The Defense Production Act is from 1950 and was signed by President Harry Truman. The act gives the President the ability to force private companies to prioritize government contracts and production in the interest of national defense and national emergency. It allows the President to use incentives to have these companies produce emergency and essential goods as necessary.
The move comes as experts across the country are warning of potential shortages of necessary supplies. Hospitals have worried about potential shortages of required personal protective equipment, or PPE. Bloomberg News has an article from earlier this week that described how one hospital was making PPE out of office supplies.
Trump has not invoked the powers from the act as of yet, which is drawing criticism from Democrats. According to the Fox News article, Vice President Pence is hopeful that companies will voluntarily cooperate to help during the crisis. Democrats say this is not enough and immediate action is necessary.
But private companies are stepping up in this emergency. Apple has pledged to donate 2 million N95 masks to healthcare workers. Dell has donated money and tech supplies. In addition to donating $25 million to the response and taking measures to remain open, Wal-Mart has pledged to hire an additional 150,000 workers and give bonuses to workers. Forbes has a list of many more companies taking measures to help.
While the initial step was to move Navy ships to assist with hospital needs in major cities, Carnival stepped up offering cruise ships as temporary hospitals as needed. This allows hospitals to focus on critical patients. Those who are less critical can be placed in these temporary locations for monitoring. But the Democrats will argue these steps do not replace the need for ventilators and PPE.
Pence announced just 2 days ago a partnership with 3M and with other private businesses. Through these efforts they have identified 35 million masks and tens of thousands of ventilators for use. These private businesses are stepping up to help their fellow Americans in a time of need.
While there is no guarantee that President Trump will not invoke the act, he may not need to. I believe companies will continue to step up and support in any way possible, because they are feeling the effects of the virus too. If companies continue to respond as they have and deliver on the basic needs, we will persevere. Just like America always has.
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