Americas, Latest on coronavirus outbreak

Trump invoking war powers to combat virus outbreak

Authorities allow US president to more directly mandate production of private sector

Michael Hernandez  | 18.03.2020 - Update : 19.03.2020
Trump invoking war powers to combat virus outbreak


U.S. President Donald Trump said Wednesday he is activating a war-time law that allows him to more directly mandate the production of the private sector as the U.S. seeks to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. 

Trump said he will "be invoking" the Defense Production Act, a 1950 war powers act originally signed into effect at the onset of the Korean War, "in case we need it."

It gives the president broad authorities to direct private firms to produce certain goods needed for the national defense in an effort to increase the necessity of producing goods that are urgently needed.

The U.S. is currently facing a shortage of badly-needed medical equipment, including ventilators, respirators and hospital masks, as it seeks to stymy the spread of COVID-19.

The president said he would be signing the act shortly after he briefed reporters during a press conference, saying it is "prepared to go." But the White House has yet to officially say he has taken the action.

The U.S. and Canada earlier Wednesday announced the closure of their mutual border, which 200,000 people cross daily, to "non-essential travel." The transit of commercial goods, however, has not been impeded as the global economy grapples with the economic shocks being caused by the ongoing pandemic.

Trump declared a national emergency last Friday under the Stafford Act to allow the federal government to more easily share resources with state and local governments amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The president's newest effort comes as the number of coronavirus infections worldwide has surpassed 212,000, including over 8,000 deaths, according to a tally compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

That includes over 7,300 cases in the U.S. where 115 deaths have been counted.

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