Federal, state leaders say action is required now to get critical resources to Western New York
Congressman Brian Higgins, New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes and New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy are asking President Donald Trump to immediately commence national coordination of emergency supply production, authorized under the Defense Production Act. New York is home to 50% of the total confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S.
The Defense Production Act (DPA) gives the president the authority to require or incentivize domestic manufacturers to expand the production and supply of critical materials and goods. The administration can provide loans, loan guarantees, direct purchases and purchase commitments, and has the authority to procure and install equipment in private industrial facilities. The DPA establishes a Treasury account, the Defense Production Act Fund, which is available to carry out the projects.
Higgins’ camp said Trump signed the Defense Production Act Executive Order on March 18, but has yet to actually direct companies to produce emergency supplies. The president’s order also allows for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to implement voluntary agreements with private industry, but did not specify the authority to provide financial incentives to companies producing the supplies.
Higgins, Peoples-Stokes and Kennedy said, “The federal government must act now to deliver critical resources to Western New York and communities across the country. They have been in touch with local hospitals and emergency responders in urgent need of help.”
In a letter to the president Higgins writes, “We are experiencing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) at the same time as we are seeing cases grow exponentially. There must be a concerted effort to domestically produce and source items like, N95 masks, protective gowns, face shields, and gloves, to protect frontline health care personnel from contracting the virus. It is imperative that our hospitals and health care organizations remain adequately staffed to continue to test and treat members of the public who have been exposed the virus.”
Peoples-Stokes said, “Western New York hospitals and health care providers are bracing for what could be a tsunami of coronavirus patients who need appropriate care. Right now, there is real concern that they do not have the appropriate level of supplies to treat and care for these patients while also protecting their workers. I join Congressman Higgins in urging the president to activate the Defense Production Act to ensure our hospitals get these supplies and resources in a timely manner to best serve WNY's most vulnerable and at-risk patients.”
Kennedy said, "Now more than ever, it's imperative that these critical supplies are reaching our health care workers on the frontlines of this pandemic. It's time President Trump require manufacturers to expand production and meet the growing need for these essential resources. Gov. Cuomo has done a tremendous job navigating New Yorkers through this crisis, but having this federal commitment is paramount to ensuring our state and our nation can continue to aggressively address this growing emergency."
A press release noted “federal oversight of personal protective equipment production, distribution and pricing would allow for more emergency supplies for communities and less price gouging or competitive bidding between regions in need. Ramping up production would limit the need to ration supplies or take other measures that put those on the frontline of fighting COVID-19 at risk.”