scorecardFEMA chief contradicts Trump, saying the Defense Production Act still hasn't been used to get critical supplies for coronavirus fight
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FEMA chief contradicts Trump, saying the Defense Production Act still hasn't been used to get critical supplies for coronavirus fight

Ryan Pickrell   

FEMA chief contradicts Trump, saying the Defense Production Act still hasn't been used to get critical supplies for coronavirus fight
LifeScience2 min read
donald trump
  • The president has not yet made use of the Defense Production Act to get critical supplies to the frontlines of the coronavirus fight, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor told CNN Sunday.
  • The admission comes just two days after Trump said he was using the law and told reporters that he had directed "a lot" of companies to produce things like masks and ventilators.
  • "We cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers to start production," New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said Sunday, warning that medical facilities in her hard-hit state do not have enough of the supplies they need.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

President Donald Trump has invoked but not yet enforced the Defense Production Act (DPA) to get companies to manufacture critical supplies for the fight against the coronavirus, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Pete Gaynor told CNN's Jake Tapper Sunday.

"No. We haven't yet," Gaynor replied when asked on CNN's "State of the Union" if the Trump administration has ordered any companies to make more of any critical medical supplies needed on the frontlines of the coronavirus fight.

Gaynor insisted that donations are presently sufficient. "It's happening without using that lever," he explained, adding, "If it comes to a point we have to pull the lever, we will."

The president said at a press briefing Friday that the DPA, which gives the federal government the power to direct companies to prioritize production to meet US national defense demands, is already being used to spur the production of ventilators, masks, and respirators.

"We're using the act," Trump said. "We put it into gear."

The president specifically stated that he had directed "a lot" of companies to start making critical supplies, adding that "they're making a lot of ventilators and they're making a lot of masks."

US associations representing doctors, nurses, and hospitals sent a letter Saturday to the president begging him to use the Defense Production Act.

The letter said that "America's hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses urge you to immediately use the [Defense Production Act] to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need."

The US has reported more than 25,000 coronavirus cases with over 300 deaths. New York is the hardest-hit state, with more than 12,000 cases.

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told CNN's Tapper Sunday that the president needs to act now rather than wait until situation gets worse.

"We cannot wait until people start really dying in large numbers to start production, especially of more complicated equipment like ventilators and hospital beds," Ocasio-Cortez said. "We need to start this production right now to get ready for the surge that is coming in two to three weeks."

"There are not enough face masks, gloves, ventilators, hospital beds to get us through this. Many hospitals are already at capacity or are approaching capacity," the Democratic lawmaker added.

Urging Trump to use the Defense Production Act "to its fullest to get us things like ventilators," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told NBC Sunday that "if the president doesn't act, people will die who could have lived otherwise."




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