(USA Features) President Donald Trump on Wednesday invoked a Korean War-era law to order certain U.S. industries to ramp up production of equipment and supplies needed to fight the emerging coronavirus pandemic.
The president also ordered a pair of U.S. Navy hospital ships to deploy in waters off the east and west coasts to prepare for mass casualties as two members of Congress were diagnosed with the disease.
In all, the White House has been placed on “wartime” footing, officials said.
After invoking the Defense Production Act, Trump can now order private industries to increase production for supplies related to military, energy, space, and homeland security initiatives and programs.
The president plans to use the act to order American manufacturers to bolster production of ventilators and personal protective equipment (PPE) like gowns, gloves, and masks.
“It can do a lot of good things if we need it,” Trump told White House reporters. “It’s prepared to go.”
Rep. Ben McAdams, Utah Democrat, and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, Florida Republican, became the first members of Congress to report positive tests for COVID-19.
Diaz-Balart said he developed a fever and headache on Saturday.
“I want everyone to know that I am feeling much better. However, it is important that everyone take this extremely seriously and follow CDC guidelines in order to avoid getting sick and mitigate the spread of this virus,” Diaz-Balart said in a statement.
As of this writing, there are nearly 9,600 cases of coronavirus in the U.S.; 160 people have died from the disease, according to WorldMeters.