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Hospital Association CEO urges Trump to 'fully employ' law to ramp up coronavirus supplies

Hospital Association CEO urges Trump to 'fully employ' law to ramp up coronavirus supplies
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The CEO of the American Hospital Association on Saturday urged President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden adds to vote margin over Trump after Milwaukee County recount Krebs says allegations of foreign interference in 2020 election 'farcical'  Republicans ready to become deficit hawks again under a President Biden MORE to “fully employ” a federal law that allows the government to direct private industry to ramp up production of critically needed supplies to fight the coronavirus. 

Rick Pollack, the hospital association's president, pointed to the Defense Production Act as a critical tool for increasing badly needed supplies like protective gear for doctors and nurses.

“We urge that the Defense Production Act be fully employed,” Pollack said on a call with reporters. 

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But President Trump has given mixed and unclear signals on the law, saying on Thursday that the federal government is not a “shipping clerk” and that states should be taking the lead. On Friday, by contrast, he said he was invoking the law, but did not give any specifics on which companies were ramping up production or by how much. 

Hospital leaders on Saturday said it is urgent for them to get more supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), like masks, gowns and gloves, to keep doctors and nurses safe while they care for people with coronavirus. Ventilators, machines that allow seriously ill patients to breathe, are also going to be on short supply as the wave of cases increases.  

“We have to ramp up the production of the masks, of the gowns, of the gloves,” Pollack said. 

Illustrating the need for more supplies, Pollack added: “We have people that are making masks at home and donating them to the hospital.”

Hospital leaders said that they are unable to buy more protective gear through usual channels on the private market because it is all sold out. 

“There’s no PPE to be bought on the private market,” said Kevin Donovan, CEO of LRGHealthcare, a hospital system in New Hampshire. 

Several rural hospitals also warned that they are at risk of going out of business as the coronavirus adds further strain to their financial situation. Some have had to cut back on elective surgeries to free up capacity for coronavirus patients, cutting a crucial source of revenue. 

Hospitals are asking for at least $100 billion in funding in the rescue package that Congress is trying to finalize on Saturday.