President Donald Trump said he is invoking the Defense Production Act and putting in place a law that will allow the U.S. government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other equipment needs.
The law dates back to the Korean War of the 1950s and grants the president broad authority to “expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs.”
“We will be invoking the Defense Production Act just in case we need it,” said Trump.
“We’re going to defeat the invisible enemy,” said Trump.
Trump added that this crisis has basically made him a “war-time president.”
Trump said he would invoke another law that would allow U.S. authorities to turn back migrants seeking to cross the southern border of the United States illegally. The border will not be closed, he said.
Trump said a hospital ship will be sent to hard-hit New York to help people affected by the contagion, and that a second hospital ship will be deployed to the West Coast.
In response to claims that Trump used an ethnic slur by calling coronavirus “the Chinese virus,” he said, “It’s not racist, not at all. It comes from China.”
More from Reuters:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin fanned fears of economic collapse on Wednesday by telling lawmakers on Capitol Hill that 20 percent unemployment was an extreme possibility should the virus have devastating effects on American businesses, many of which are already under duress.
“That’s an abosllute total worst case scenario,” said Trump. “We’re nowhere near it.”
Vice President Mike Pence, head of the coronavirus task force, urged all Americans to put off elective surgery to allow hospitals to concentrate on the rising influx of patients with the COVID-19 respiratory illness caused by the new virus.
Deborah Birx, a member of the task force, urged young people to adhere to government guidelines, calling for a 15-day effort to slow the spread of the virus. Young people are considered key transmitters of the virus, which can be passed along even with mild or no symptoms.
There are now more than 7,000 U.S. cases of the illness and over 100 deaths.
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