April 3 (UPI) — President Donald Trump announced Thursday he will expand use of the Defense Production Act to assist manufacturers in securing supplies to make ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
Trump said the order directs the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security to help domestic manufacturers — including General Electric, Hill Rom, Medtronic, ResMed, Royal Philips and Vyaire Medical — acquire the necessary resources to build the ventilators.
“I am grateful to these and other domestic manufacturers for ramping up their production of ventilators during this difficult time,” Trump said. “Today’s order will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten rapid production of ventilators.”
The announcement came as Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told the House Oversight Committee this week that most of the 100,000 ventilators Trump said he would obtain will not be available until June.
FEMA officials said there were 9,500 ventilators in the current national stockpile and 3,200 more were expected by the week of April 13, a time period that is projected to coincide with a peak in the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump said during a briefing of the White House Coronavirus Task Force that he expects to make additional orders for ventilators.
He also signed an order under the Defense Protection Act authorizing the head of FEMA to acquire as many N95 respirator face masks from manufacturer 3M as deemed necessary for the pandemic.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said during a Thursday press conference that the state, which has become a hotspot for the virus with 2,373 deaths and 92,381 confirmed cases of coronavirus, will run out of ventilators in six days.
Cuomo said the state had 2,200 ventilators in its stockpile and about 350 new patients require them each day, adding that the supply decreases “very quickly” at that rate.
“If a person comes in and needs a ventilator and you don’t have a ventilator, the person dies,” Cuomo said. “That’s the blunt equation here. And right now we have a burn rate that would suggest we have about six days in the stockpile.”