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Commentary: Trump must invoke Defence Production Act to initiate private sector production of essential items amid COVID-19 outbreak

“Why the Federal Government needs to lead on COVID-19”, 22 March 2020

To date, the President has not given the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and others in the federal government the power or resources necessary to fight [COVID-19]. Firstly…,FEMA…and [its] supply chain task force need to…[assess] the current availability of…essential items…either from national stockpiles or…manufacturers…

Second, the President needs to invoke the Defense Production Act…to mobilize the private sector to maximize production of the essential items both to ensure patient care and to protect healthcare providers. Administration officials have reported…an outpouring of voluntary commitments from various companies, including HanesGeneral Motors, and Pernod Ricard. [T]hese voluntary efforts need to be augmented…by a massive national production effort that can only be achieved by fully deploying the…Act.

Finally, in this moment of crisis, only the federal government has the financial resources necessary to pay for the production and delivery of these urgently needed medical items. [For example], many hospitals cannot afford to buy additional ventilators without the…federal government. The clock is ticking and the buck stops [at] the Oval Office.