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WASHINGTON -- In response to a critical shortage of ventilators needed to keep severe COVID-19 patients breathing, President Donald Trump ordered General Motors to produce the life-saving machines under the Defense Production Act. The Department of Health and Human Services will be responsible for implementation of and follow through on that order.
In response, Matthew Wellington, Public Health Campaigns Director for U.S. PIRG, issued the following statement:
“It's about time we got serious about ramping up ventilator supply, and we need to do more. Health experts say we don’t have enough ventilators -- machines used to help people struggling to breathe -- to treat the projected number of COVID-19 patients. From Seattle to Detroit to New York, hospitals are preparing for the worst-case scenarios.
“Even when there is medical equipment on the market, there’s no central coordination of procurement and distribution, so states are competing with each other and the federal government over supplies, and hospitals aren't getting what they need to protect healthcare workers and save lives.
“President Trump did the right thing by using the Defense Production Act to order more ventilator production. Now, we need a cooperative effort that only the federal government has the power to execute. The Trump Administration should take full responsibility for coordinating with states to determine their resource needs and then promptly distributing ventilators and other critical medical supplies such as masks and gloves.
“U.S. PIRG is currently circulating a letter from mayors across the country calling on President Trump to ramp up production of medical supplies and centrally distribute those materials where they’re needed. The administration must also do what it takes to double our ventilator supply over the next month.”
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