The White House announced Thursday that President Donald Trump is invoking the Defense Production Act to clear up supply-chain issues encountered in the manufacturing of ventilators and to ensure the production of additional N95 face masks.
Thursday’s orders come amid increased fears of ventilator shortages and personal protective equipment around the country. The use of ventilators among critical coronavirus patients and the demand for protective equipment, such as the N95 respirator, has skyrocketed since the coronavirus pandemic hit the US.
The first order, a White House statement said, will help domestic manufacturers “secure the supplies they need to build ventilators needed to defeat the virus.”
The President also said the move “will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators.”
The order, which came in the form of a presidential memorandum, directs the supply of materials to make ventilators to six companies: General Electric Co., Hill-Rom Holdings Inc., Medtronic Public Limited Co., ResMed Inc., Royal Philips N.V. and Vyaire Medical Inc.
It also directs acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to “use any and all authority available under the Act to facilitate the supply of materials” to these companies.
A second order invokes the Defense Production Act to authorize Azar and Pete Gaynor, the administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to “use any and all authority available under the Act to acquire” N95 respirators from 3M.
Speaking about the decision to invoke the act against 3M, Trump told reporters, “Hopefully they’ll be able to do what they are supposed to do.”
A spokesperson for General Electric said the company welcomes “efforts by the administration to address supply chain constraints and help the industry in its mission to produce as many ventilators as possible for clinicians on the front lines treating COVID-19 patients.”
After signing an executive order authorizing the use of the Defense Production Act for coronavirus-related federal procurement, Trump initially stopped short of using it against specific companies.
Even after he signed an executive order activating the use of the act for coronavirus supplies, Trump had argued that businesses were voluntarily pitching in and didn’t need to be threatened by the invocation of the act.
“Frankly, they don’t need someone to walk over there with a hammer and say do it,” he said at the time.
But last week, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to produce more ventilators.
The President has faced pressure to use the act to procure medical equipment and protective equipment for dealing with the coronavirus in the US.
The Defense Production Act, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is “the primary source of presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the US industrial base to support military, energy, space and homeland security programs.”
CNN’s Jim Acosta contributed to this report.
This story has been updated with additional reporting about Trump’s directives.