Washington, D.C. – Extraordinary actions and efforts have been taken to slow the spread of COVID-19 and ultimately overcome the Invisible Enemy. To help protect Americans, Congress has equipped the Trump administration with funding to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to assistance from Congress, President Donald Trump is using his executive authorities to strategically invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) for increasing critical medical resource supplies and domestic manufacturing, strengthening the industrial base throughout the U.S. COVID-19 response. The president has invoked the DPA on more than 30 instances, to generate N-95 respirators, ventilators, and boost testing resources, as well as other vital supplies. Because of the president’s swift and decisive actions, no American has been deprived of a life-saving ventilator.
When releasing recommendations to strengthen the U.S. health care supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) said, “During this pandemic, all Americans, especially our frontline health care workers, have experienced the consequences of depending too much on foreign nations to meet our health care supply chain needs.” The president has used his authorities to help mitigate our overreliance on other countries for medical products. For example, the president used DPA at least nine times to secure and produce N-95 respirators, which were in dire shortage all over the world. As a result of federal and private sector innovation and Whole-of-America priority efforts, FEMA reported that on August 14, 218 million N-95 respirators had been delivered or were in the process of being delivered to the health care and essential personnel workforce.
Extraordinary efforts were launched to quickly produce ventilators for patients. The U.S. had roughly 16,600 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) ready for deployment at the beginning of the pandemic. The Trump administration implemented DPA agreements more than a dozen times to increase ventilator supplies through repurposing manufacturing plants and mobilizing General Motors, Philips, and several other companies to rapidly produce ventilators to meet patient needs. The SNS contained more than 102,000 ventilators on August 20, according to FEMA.
This week, the Trump administration demonstrated another important use of the DPA to provide COVID-19 tests to nursing homes, where many of our most vulnerable citizens reside. These DPA acquisitions will accelerate delivery of rapid point-of-care tests to around 14,000 nursing homes, an accomplishment that builds upon other significant actions President Trump has taken to prioritize life-saving measures and supplies to nursing home residents. The president also used the DPA to increase production and domestic manufacturing of cotton swabs, a crucial testing supply component. For example, Puritan Medical Products now makes an additional 20 million swabs a month and is expanding its U.S. manufacturing facility. Because of the Trump administration’s use of the DPA and other authorities, testing supplies have surged, resulting in a combined public and private reporting of more than 74 million COVID-19 tests.
In addition to using the DPA to boost medical equipment and testing, the Trump administration has used the DPA to preserve existing medical resources and prohibit individuals from hoarding them or selling them at exorbitant prices. In August, the Department of Justice charged an individual with two violations of the DPA for hoarding 200,000 masks with plans to price gouge and sell them for double the market value.
The DPA and other authorities are also being used to ensure the health care supply chain needed for Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a strategy that aims to accelerate the development, manufacturing and distribution of 300 million doses of safe, effective COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021. The DPA has been used to create domestic manufacturing of needles and syringes necessary to deliver vaccines in mass scale to the American people as OWS participants work around the clock to create effective vaccines at unprecedented speed while adhering to every safety protocol.
As we continue the fight to defeat COVID-19, Congress and the Trump administration will continue measured and judicious use of every available authority to protect Americans.