Hospitals and other medical facilities urgently requested for more ventilators starting Feb., however Trump invoked the DPA in April.
During the ABC town hall on Oct. 15, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said that President Donald Trump took a really long time to invoke the Defence Production Act, especially to get ventilators. The first Covid-19 case was reported on Jan. 20 in the US, and on Feb. 29, the US reported its first death. While the first case was reported in Jan, it wasn’t until March when Trump approved widespread testing and declared a national emergency.
By Mar 2020, many news organizations were reporting on a shortage of ventilators in the US. “The scarcity of ventilators has become an emergency, forcing doctors to make life-or-death decisions about who gets to breathe and who does not,” reported the NYT on Mar. 29. The federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile had full-service ventilators in its warehouses, over 10,000, but not in the quantities that would be needed to combat a major pandemic. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, revealed on Mar. 15 that the stockpile had 12,700 ventilators in good shape. The government has since tried to increase the number available to 16,660. Still, fewer than a quarter of what officials years earlier had estimated would be required in a moderate flu pandemic.
Furthermore, in late March, the president made several misleading statements about the country’s ventilator supply and his plans to increase it. To transfer blame for the shortage, Trump accused hospitals of hoarding ventilators to suggesting that the US doesn’t even need more of them. In an interview with Sean Hannity in March, the president downplayed the need for more ventilators, despite many public health experts and governors expressing an urgent need for them.
In April 2020, US President Donald Trump invoked the Defense Production Act (DPA) in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Cold War-era act gives the president significant emergency authority to control domestic industries and the economy. Trump used the law to crack down on hoarding, limit exports of medical goods, and increase the production of critical medical supplies, including ventilators.
Trump ordered General Motors to produce ventilators and 3M to produce N95 respirator masks for the federal government. He issued an executive order to prevent the hoarding of essential supplies. He directed his administration to increase essential health products’ domestic production capacity using loans, loan guarantees, and other actions. The coronavirus economic stimulus package, or CARES Act, set aside $1 billion for DPA purchases by the Defense Department.
In the light of several news organizations reporting on the urgent need for more ventilators from Feb, and Trump’s order coming in April, we can conclude that his order was rather delayed. Furthermore, Bob Woodward, an investigative journalist in his book Rage stated that Trump admitted to Woodward in an interview he knew weeks before the first confirmed US coronavirus death that the virus was dangerous, airborne, highly contagious, and “more deadly than even your strenuous flu,” and that he repeatedly played it down publicly. “I wanted to always play it down,” Trump said on Mar. 19, according to CNN, which obtained an audio recording of the interview between Trump and Woodward. The Washington Post also accessed the interview where Trump said, “I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.”
Therefore, Biden's claim that Trump took a really long time to invoke the DPA, especially for producing ventilators, is true.