Trump Just Signed the Defense Production Act: What Does This Mean for Coronavirus Supplies?

 Flanked by members of the Coronavirus Task Force, U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a news briefing on the latest development of the coronavirus outbreak.
Photo credit Getty Images

In order to speed up the production of vital items such as ventilators and masks, President Donald Trump has signed the Defense Production Act. 

The executive order signed Wednesday says  "To ensure that our healthcare system is able to surge capacity and capability to respond to the spread of COVID-19, it is critical that all health and medical resources needed to respond to the spread of COVID-19 are properly distributed to the Nation's healthcare system and others that need them most at this time."

The act has been used many times since it was first created during the Korean War, most recently the president signed the act in 2017 to "rectify a shortfall in the space industrial base."  

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the DPA "is the primary source of Presidential authorities to expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs."

It should be used only to "support programs determined to be 'necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense' by DOD (for military and space programs), by DOE (for energy resources), or by DHS (for all other national defense programs, including civil defense and continuity of government)."

Programs eligible for DPA support include: 

  • Efforts to counter-terrorism within the United States
  • Emergency preparedness activities conducted pursuant to title VI of the Stafford Act
  • Protection and restoration of critical infrastructure
  • Continuity of Government

The president said he has signed the act because "if we need to use it we will be using it at full speed ahead."

The administration already has targets for certain pieces of equipment such as ventilators and masks.