WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The United States is now using a war-time measure in an effort to get more critical medical supplies made by American companies that typically make other things.
If the spread of the coronavirus continues, medical professionals could face difficult choices.
“Well, this person will get care, this person will get a ventilator but this one won’t and, we’re sorry, but that person will die,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley hypothesized.
Merkley supports President Trump’s decision to invoke the Defense Production Act to call on American manufacturers to “retool” — in this case, to make critical medical equipment like ventilators and masks.
“This is absolutely the right time to invoke this act,” said Merkley.
General Motors already announced it is halting vehicle production in the U.S. On Friday, Trump said he had asked GM to start producing medical equipment instead.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said he urged the president to act now to order manufacturers to start making critical medical equipment and promised to support the decision.
“Congress will make whatever resources are needed available to the Defense Department very quickly to implement this act,” Schumer said.
Lawmakers said the U.S. stockpiles of medical equipment will likely be depleted soon and the end of the coronavirus crisis is nowhere in sight.