WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to get needed medical supplies on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak and the private sector to mobilize against the pandemic.
Trump had said earlier in the week he would tap the act as needed. He said Friday he has put that “in gear.”
Trump also announced an effective closure of the U.S. border with Mexico, prohibiting most travel except for trade. That brings it in line with the restriction on the Canadian border earlier this week. The U.S. is also suspending interest on student loans to help young people cope with job losses and the financial crunch.
More than 200 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. and sickness from the disease is on the rise, with hospitals at risk of being overrun. Most people who get it have only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he implored Trump during a phone call Friday to invoke the Korean War-era act immediately to order the manufacture of ventilators and other critically needed medical gear. The president told Schumer he would, then could be heard on the telephone seeming to make the order. He yelled to someone in his office to do it now, said Schumer’s spokesman, Justin Goodman.