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Trump says he has put Defense Production Act into gear to fight coronavirus

Reuters logo Reuters 20/3/2020 By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason

UPDATE: Trump says he has not yet had to require companies to make products under the Defense Production Act.

EARLIER: WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced on Friday he had put the wartime Defense Production Act into action to aid the fight against coronavirus after saying earlier this week he would invoke the measure when needed.

The measure is meant to allow the U.S. government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other needed equipment.

Trump said he put the measure into action on Thursday evening. He and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer spoke about the issue in a phone call on Friday.

Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel are seen at a New York State emergency operations incident command center during the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar © Thomson Reuters Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel are seen at a New York State emergency operations incident command center during the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar Asked why he was putting it into action now, the president told reporters it would be used to ensure that U.S. states could get masks and other equipment needed to fight the virus.

The law, which dates to the Korean War of the 1950s, grants the president broad authority to "expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs," according to a summary on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.

"I invoked the Defense Production Act, and last night, we put it into gear," Trump said.

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