Amid concerns about supply shortages for providers treating COVID-19 patients, President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would invoke the Defense Production Act (DPA) to mitigate those challenges.
Invoking the law will allow the administration to direct factories to produce more face masks, gowns, gloves and other medical supplies. Trump said the law would be invoked within hours on Wednesday afternoon.
"It's prepared to go," he said at a press conference.
The announcement comes one day after Trump said the administration would prefer not to invoke the act.
He did not specify Wednesday exactly how the White House intends to proceed under the DPA. He did note that the administration was activating the law "just in case we need it."
Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the department would begin by transferring masks and protective equipment from its reserves to the Department of Health and Human Services.
As the pandemic grows, hospitals are expecting significant disruption to the supply chain, including critical products like personal protective equipment, ventilators and even some drugs.
Vice President Mike Pence has also urged construction firms to donate unused N95 masks to hospitals and avoid ordering further stock of such items.