Trump invokes DPA for COVID-19 testing swabs

United States President Donald J. Trump holds up swabs during the coronavirus pandemic briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing room at the White House in Washington, D.C., on Sunday. Photo by Stefani Reynolds/UPI

April 20 (UPI) — President Donald Trump said he plans to force a U.S. company through the Defense Production Act to produce medical swabs used for coronavirus tests.

Trump announced during a White House news briefing Sunday night that he is preparing to use the Korean War-era law to compel an unnamed company to produce more than 20 million swabs a month.

“We’re calling in the Defense Production Act and we’ll be getting swabs very easily,” Trump said. “Swabs are easy, ventilators are hard.”

Trump explained the law was being used as his administration has had “a little difficulty” trying to get the company to make the swabs through negotiations.

The president has previously used the Defense Production Act amid the pandemic on companies, including General Motors, to produce ventilators.

The announcement follows governors stating that they don’t have enough swabs and other supplies, which is preventing COVID-19 tests from being conducted.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer told NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the state has the capacity to perform double or triple the tests it is now but they lack the supplies.

“The reagents and the swabs are absolutely essential,” she said. “You can’t process all these tests if you can’t take the sample and protect it and move forward through testing. And so while our capabilities are there, these important supplies are not.”

Trump said during the press conference that the administration continues to work with companies to procure millions of swabs.

“We’ve ordered a lot of them, they have a lot of them,” he said, adding that states have been shipped swabs “but they don’t know where they are.”

Earlier Sunday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the United States will be ramping up COVID-19 testing in order to facilitate plans to lift stay-at-home orders and reopen the economy.

During the evening press conference, Trump said more than 4.8 million Americans have been tested for the coronavirus.

The United States leads the world in COVID-19 cases with more than 750,000 confirmed infections, and it has more than 40,000 deaths linked to the virus, according to a live tracker of the disease by Johns Hopkins University.


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