Virus Surge Brings Calls for Trump to Invoke Defense Production Act
(The New York Times | July 22, 2020) Experts, medical workers and elected officials are reviving their call for the Trump administration to ramp up its use of the Defense Production Act to secure critical medical supplies.
In March, as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in the United States and pressure from cities and states grew, President Trump used the act to press General Motors to begin production of ventilators. But four months later, frustrated by what they describe as a lack of federal leadership in the face of continued shortages, critics say the Trump administration is not wielding the act to the extent that it can and should.
“What the federal government—the president or secretaries possessing delegated authority—have not done yet is use the D.P.A. to create a permanent, sustainable, redundant, domestic supply chain for all things pandemic: testing, swabs, N95 masks, etc.,” said Jamie Baker, a former legal adviser to the National Security Council and a professor of national security law at Syracuse University …
Mr. Baker, the national security law professor, said he worried that the federal government’s struggle to supply swabs and protective gear might portend difficulties in widely distributing a vaccine.
“Whatever vaccine is produced, it’s going to involve a vial and a needle,” he said. “If we cannot figure out how to produce enough swabs or tests, will we figure out how to produce enough vaccine or treatments?”
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