Cuomo calls on Trump to use DPA to ramp up coronavirus testing
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on Friday called on President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to dramatically ramp up the production of testing kits and supplies that health experts say will be critical to reopening the economy.
Cuomo, during his daily press conference, said Trump should use the law to force manufacturers to make those items because private labs can’t do it on their own.
“We need an unprecedented mobilization where the government can produce these tests in the millions,” Cuomo said, adding that New York can only run several thousand tests a week.
“We have 9 million people we want to get back to work. We need more than several thousand tests per week if this is going to happen anytime soon.”
Public health experts say widespread testing is key to reopening the economy but that there still isn’t enough lab capacity in the U.S. to run millions of tests per week.
Cuomo said private sector companies have tests, but they don’t have the resources to transition to production on a macro scale without help from the federal government.
“Let’s get the testing up to scale quickly so we can start building the bridge to reopening the economy,” he said.
Trump on Thursday downplayed the importance of widespread testing, telling reporters at a White House briefing that ramping up testing on a large scale is a goal but is not a necessity to send people back to work.
“We want to have it and we’re going to see if we have it. Do you need it? No. Is it a nice thing to do? Yes,” Trump said. “We’re talking about 325 million people. And that’s not going to happen, as you can imagine, and it would never happen with anyone else either.”
Trump has sparingly used the Defense Production Act, to the consternation of governors and experts who see a dire need for personal protective equipment, tests and other supplies.
He has invoked the law to ramp up the production of ventilators and masks.