Trump admin to issue ‘Buy American’ order on medical supplies over coronavirus

President Donald J. Trump addresses the nation from the Oval Office of the White House Wednesday evening, March 11, 2020, on the country’s expanded response against the global Coronavirus outbreak. (Official White House Photo by Joyce N. Boghosian)

(USA Features) President Donald Trump is set to issue an executive order this week requiring government agencies to purchase medical supplies from American companies in response to supply chain disruptions due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“The essence of the order … is to bring all of that home so that we don’t have to worry about foreign dependency,” White House trade policy adviser Peter Navarro told CNBC, arguing that too much of the supplies are dependent on foreign sources. “We’ve got face mask issues, goggle issues, things like that.”

Navarro noted that the order, which was proposed last week, would be used to allocate emergency funding authorized by Congress to “flip the switch” on at a U.S. facility in Virginia “so we can make stuff here and do it more cost-efficiently.”

He did not say how much funding would be allocated to the factory or in what form, or if there were other facilities being considered for start-up.

The U.S. and other countries get the vast majority of medical supplies and equipment from Chinese suppliers. But when the virus outbreak began there, multiple Chinese cities were quarantined, which led to widespread factory stoppages.

As a result, the global medical and healthcare supply chains were disrupted even as other countries began dealing with their own outbreaks.

Navarro said the “Buy American” order would seek to reduce the United States’ over-reliance on Chinese healthcare equipment.

The order will prevent federal agencies from purchasing medical supplies, including face masks, gloves and ventilators, from China.

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