FEMA chief says Defense Production Act will be used for coronavirus test kits

The Trump administration will formally trigger the Defense Production Act (DPA) Tuesday to secure coronavirus testing kits, the head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency said.

"We're actually going to use the DPA for the first time today. There's some test kits we need to get our hands on," FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor told CNN in an interview. 

Gaynor said they will use the act to acquire "about 60,000 test kits." 

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He also said that the administration would insert some DPA language into the mass contracts the federal government has to acquire 500 million protective masks.  

"We're going to use it," Gaynor said of the act. "We're going to use it when we need it and we're going to use it today."

Gaynor's comments are at odds with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump signs bill averting shutdown after brief funding lapse Privacy, civil rights groups demand transparency from Amazon on election data breaches Facebook takes down Trump campaign ads tying refugees to coronavirus MORE, who has been resisting growing pressure to use his authority under the DPA to increase production of urgently needed supplies to fight the coronavirus.

"The Defense Production Act is in full force, but haven’t had to use it because no one has said NO! Millions of masks coming as back up to States," Trump tweeted early Tuesday, just before Gaynor's interview. 

Less than three months into the pandemic, hospitals, health workers and state and local officials have said they are quickly running out of personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves that are crucial to keeping doctors and nurses on the front lines of the pandemic safe.

Trump last week said he would invoke the act, which would allow the administration to direct American companies to manufacture medical supplies that are in short supply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. 

But he has resisted activating the statute, arguing it would lead to the government intervening too much in the private sector. Trump has said he doesn't need to invoke the law, since private companies have been volunteering to step in.

Trump has repeatedly said states are in a better position to manage their own supply chains than the federal government is.