President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence participate in a video teleconference with governors to discuss a partnership to prepare, mitigate, and respond to the coronavirus outbreak Thursday, March 19, 2020, at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Federal Emergency Management Agency administrator Pete Gaynor announced on CNN Tuesday that the President has invoked the Defense Production Act.
The DPA grants the government the ability to force private sector companies to mass-produce essential equipment during a crisis.
“We’re actually going to use the DPA for the first time today.”
He said, FEMA will use “the allocation portion” of the act to get together approximately 60,000 test kits.
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) March 24, 2020
As I covered Monday, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams told the Today show he didn’t believe DPA employment was yet necessary:
“You don’t need to compel someone to do something they’re already doing.”
I wrote at the time:
Dr. Jerome pointed out that the White House is working with companies like Hanes and Honeywell, which are producing large quantities of necessary items.
But, as noted by The Daily Caller, some medical personnel have experienced a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
The medical community has…taken the situation into their own hands by starting #GetMePPE — a social media initiative designed to put pressure on public officials in order to get more personal protective equipment. Some medical officials are even asking the public to donate any sort of medical supplies they might have.
One nurse informed TDC that some workers were having to re-use their masks:
At this time the medical community is required to re-wear their masks “5 times per one [mask] or unless they are visibly soiled” Jennifer Lacy told the Daily Caller. Lacy is a nurse from the Bay Area, a region that is carrying one of the highest percentages of COVID-19 cases in California.
It isn’t a new idea: On February 29th, Dr. Jerome asked people to stop buying masks which medical staff need in the performance of their duties:
Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS!
They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if healthcare providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!
— U.S. Surgeon General (@Surgeon_General) February 29, 2020
However, there’s been a bit of mixed messages. Professor of Clinical Epidemiology at the Yale School of Public Health Robert Hecht encouraged the use of masks by the public in The Boston Globe:
If you can successfully block access to your nose, throat, and eyes, you will avoid indfection by the coronavirus, flue, and any of several hundred other respiratory viruses.
Of course, in time of quarantine, it’s healthcare providers who are in greater need. And social distancing or no, they are at much greater risk.
Here’s more from the Caller:
The CDC has stated that you should wear a mask when sick. But they are also saying that the medical community will need to rely on “homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort,” when face masks are no longer available.
Either way, the fact as stated by the surgeon general previously was that masks were in short supply.
Laudably, companies such as Apple have stepped up to the plate to help:
Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19. We’re donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you.
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 21, 2020
But there’s more to be done.
In recent days, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, among others, have urged the Commander-in-Chief to employ the Act in order to produce equipment such as ventilators and respirators.
Hopefully, the Defense Production Act will provide relief where needed as we navigate our way through — and out of — the current state of things.
See 3 more pieces from me:
Find all my RedState work here.
Thank you for reading! Please sound off in the Comments section below. For iPhone instructions, see the bottom of this page.