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Senators Wyden and Merkley: We need better equipment to fight Covid-19

Senator’s Wyden and Merkley
Archive photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, along with Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH), are pressing President Donald Trump to use an existing authorization, the Defense Production Act (DPA), to strengthen America’s domestic manufacturing capacity a

Merkley, Wyden Urge President Trump to Boost American Manufacturing of Critical Coronavirus Safety Equipment

nd supply to meet the nation’s urgent pandemic safety equipment needs.

“It is critical that we substantially and immediately bolster domestic testing capacity to identify cases and, accordingly, help slow the spread of COVID-19,” the senators wrote. “In addition to meeting the acute and immediate needs of our health care system, we must also anticipate potential medium to long term needs for ventilators, PPE, test kits, and other goods as the disease spreads in the coming months, including a potential second wave.”

With over 4,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus within the United States—a conservative estimate given the inadequate supply of tests available—health professionals are sounding the alarm over a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, diagnostic test kits, and other medical supplies that are needed to fight the public health crisis. The shortages have prompted many medical facilities to ration their items, which in turn is jeopardizing the safety of health workers and hindering the effectiveness of response efforts.

“The federal government must lead in making sure our nation’s industrial capability is harnessed to address this urgent need. We urge you immediately to invoke DPA authorities to respond to this pandemic and alleviate these stresses on our health care system,” the senators continued.

The DPA was first passed in 1950 to authorize the president to undertake actions to boost domestic manufacturing of goods in extraordinary circumstances. In 2009, Congress extended that authority to include domestic preparedness and national emergency response efforts.

In addition to Senators Merkley, Wyden, and Brown, the letter was signed by Senators Richard Durbin (D-IL), Jack Reed (D-RI), Tom Carper (D-DE), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Benjamin Cardin (D-MD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tom Udall (D-NM), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Gary Peters (D-MI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Doug Jones (D-AL).

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