President Trump on Sunday said he was ready to use the Defense Production Act to force U.S. companies to produce more swabs for coronavirus tests.
“We’ll be getting swabs very easy,” said Mr. Trump, noting how much easier it was to make swabs than ventilators.
He flexed his authority under DPA, a Korean War-era law that marshals private manufacturing in an emergency, as the administration weather intense criticism from governors and congressional Democrats for not doing enough to provide COVID-19 tests.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, said earlier in the day that Mr. Trump deserved a grade of “F” on expanding testing.
The reopening of state economies relies on testing to contain the spread of the virus
Mr. Trump said the production of tests was “surging.”
The administration is also working with governors to help them harness test-making resources in their states, he said.
“It should be a local thing because it is all these points within states,” said the president. “But we are helping them a lot and we want to help them a lot. We are helping them more than a lot, actually.”
The administration is close to a deal with one manufacturer to produce an additional 10 million swabs a month. Another company, the one Mr. Trump threatened to with DPA, could produce another 20 million swabs per month.
He last used DPA to enlist companies to build ventilators, which were in high demand to treat patients with the most severe COVID-19 symptoms. Many states now have a surplus of ventilators.
Mr. Trump said the U.S. had rapidly expanded the production of coronavirus tests, producing more than several other countries.
He said the U.S. has produced more tests than the combined test-making of 10 other countries: France, the U.K., South Korea, Japan, Singapore, India, Austria, Australia, Sweden and Canada.
“Think of it, we’ve done more than all those countries combined,” he said.