Trump Invokes Defense Production Act As Coronavirus Ravages Economy

(Screenshot/YouTube/White House)

Anders Hagstrom White House Correspondent
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President Donald Trump invoked Wednesday the Defense Production Act, allowing the federal government to require the private sector to produce much-needed medical equipment to combat the coronavirus.

Trump was facing rising pressure to invoke the act throughout this week, calling it a “big step” Tuesday. The administration has yet to release exactly what Trump will be using the act to produce. But Defense Secretary Mark Esper also announced that the department would grant up to 5 million N-95 respirator masks to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), as well as making military hospital ships Mercy and Comfort available to expand the medical capability of the U.S.

“As far as medical supplies, the president has our task force extremely focused,” Vice President Mike Pence said. (RELATED: Mnuchin: IRS Won’t Push Back April 15 Tax Deadline)

SEATTLE, WA – MARCH 17: Nurses wait for a patient to arrive for a COVID-19 screening at an appointment-only drive-up clinic set up by the University of Washington Medical Center Northwest Outpatient Medical Center on March 17, 2020 in Seattle, Washington. The new clinic was set up to provide additional screening capacity, support personal protective equipment conservation efforts and help reduce the number of patients entering healthcare facilities for testing. (Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

The announcement comes as the Trump administration pushes to curb the disease’s impact on the U.S. economy. It has so far eliminated all of the stock market increases gained over the previous three years of Trump’s administration.

The U.S. coronavirus death toll reached 100 Tuesday and experts warn that the disease has not yet reached its peak in the country. (RELATED: Nevada Closes All Casinos To Slow Coronavirus Spread)

Deaths have been recorded across the U.S.

As of Tuesday, 12 deaths due to coronavirus have been recorded in California, with 10 in New York. Smaller states like South Dakota and Kansas have also recorded fatalities.

Not a single state is free of infection.