Trump Uses Defense Production Act to Speed Medical Supply Production
By Jonathan Springston, Editor, Relias Media
The Trump administration announced Wednesday it will invoke a decades-old remedy to try to solve a new problem: speed production on medical supplies that are low in stock and needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the latest of what has been a rapid-fire series of federal responses to the COVID-19 crisis this week, President Trump said he will invoke the authority of the Defense Production Act. Using this tool, the federal government can provide extra financial resources and purchasing commitments to private industry, which in turn will speed production on vital medical equipment such as ventilators, personal protective gear, and testing supplies.
On Tuesday, the Department of Defense (DOD) announced it would make 5 million respirator masks and other personal protective equipment from the Strategic National Stockpile available to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Further, DOD said it will pass along to HHS 2,000 deployable ventilators. However, because these devices differ from common civilian ventilators, DOD will have to provide special training. Finally, DOD pledged to allow non-DOD personnel to be tested in 14 certified testing labs.
"In my conversations with governors and members of Congress about the DOD's resources, I've made it clear that we will continue to support the administration's comprehensive efforts and the country every step of the way, while ensuring our nation's security remains the top priority of the Department of Defense," Defense Secretary Mark Esper said in a statement.
Earlier this week, in a conference call with medical professionals, HHS officials acknowledged there is not enough personal protective equipment in the Strategic National Stockpile to fill all the gaps at local and state levels of government.
Meanwhile, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of HHS, has provided development funding to the makers of four different COVID-19 diagnostic tests. This federal funding is provided to help private companies complete product development and speed toward FDA consideration and eventual approval.
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