Trump will use Defense Production Act to secure thousands of test kits

Source: Politico | March 24, 2020 | Quint Forgey, Sarah Owermohle and Megan Cassella

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said activating the statute would help access test kits and face masks.

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said the Trump administration on Tuesday will formally implement the Defense Production Act to secure medical equipment sorely needed to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

“So, just a little while ago my team came in, and we’re actually going to use the DPA for first time today,” Gaynor told CNN.

The FEMA Administrator said triggering the act would help access “about 60,000 test kits,” and added that the administration would insert “DPA language” into the mass contracts for the federal government’s order of 500 million personal protective masks.

Gaynor later stressed on Fox & Friends that the law would be used narrowly as “leverage.”

Federal delays in rolling out widespread testing have sparked criticism from state officials who have said they are woefully underprepared to handle the unfurling pandemic. One testing kit serves roughly 300 to 400 patients.

President Donald Trump last week invoked the DPA as the administration broadened its response to the public health crisis, but he has resisted actually activating the statute — insisting that governors bear more responsibility for obtaining potentially life-saving supplies and arguing that the private sector would pitch in to supply needed equipment voluntarily.

Meanwhile, state authorities and health experts have called for more forceful federal intervention as they struggle to get their hands on ventilators, hospital beds and other necessities before health care systems are overwhelmed by the rapidly spreading outbreak.

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