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America “at war”: Trump orders General Motors to produce ventilators

TEnding National Guard soldiers, drafting reservists, swiftly setting up military hospitals and now also war powers to control the private sector: After initial hesitation, US President Donald Trump appears to be taking action in the fight against the coronavirus epidemic.

He now wants to provide the worst affected states with the concentrated power of the federal government. Time is short: according to the Johns Hopkins University, the United States now has more cases with more than 104,000 infections than any other country in the world – more than 1,700 people have died.

The number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the United States rose on Friday as never before in a day. The authorities reported around 18,000 new diseases.

According to Trump, the country is now “at war” against an “invisible enemy”, the novel coronavirus Sars-CoV-2. Therefore, on Friday evening (local time) Trump first applied a law that was originally intended for times of war and ordered the car maker General Motors to produce urgently needed ventilators. The production of protective clothing for the health sector and the manufacture of breathing masks are now to be boosted.

A close confidant, Trump’s trade advisor Peter Navarro, is now to implement the Defense Production Act in a leading role. “We are in the most significant industrial mobilization since World War II,” said Navarro at a joint press conference with Trump in the White House.

“We have a war president fighting an invisible enemy,” he said. Now the “full power of the government” is combined with the private sector. For several days, several democratic governors had urged Trump to use the law to mobilize necessary materials.

100,000 ventilators in 100 days

The first step is to focus on ventilators that are used in large numbers in hospitals to treat patients suffering from Covid-19 lung disease. Trump promises to purchase an additional 100,000 ventilators within the next 100 days through the purchase or additional production of American companies.

Trump admitted that this corresponds to three times the US production of a normal year. “We’re going to produce a lot of ventilators,” Trump said. In the end, if the United States didn’t need that many, there would be many other nations, including Britain and Italy, who also needed it, Trump said.

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Trump also authorized Defense Secretary Mark Esper to call up reservists on Friday. A letter to the chairmen of the two Houses of Parliament in Congress said it was intended to support active forces in responding to the Corona crisis. Acting Minister of Homeland Security Chad Wolf has been authorized to call up Coast Guard reservists.

More than 12,000 National Guard soldiers are currently assisting local authorities in the fight against the virus. The armed forces send hospital ships with 1,000 beds each, and the military is now building field hospitals with around 250 beds each in several cities.

On Saturday, Trump wants to be there personally in the state of Virginia when the “Comfort” hospital ship leaves port. The ship will sail to New York, the city most severely affected by the corona virus.

Trump had dismissed the virus as a joke until a month ago that could not harm the United States. Since then, he has had to put up with the allegation that the epidemic has caught the country cold due to delayed preparations.

The number of infections has recently multiplied in just one week. And all experts say: before the situation improves, everything will get worse. More infections, more suffering, more deaths.

Normal operation “as soon as possible”

To stop the virus from spreading, the government and states have largely brought public life to a standstill: shops, offices, hotels and restaurants are closed in many places, flights and trains remain empty.

The suspension of everyday life is poison for the economy, which is extremely inconvenient for Republican Trump, especially since he is applying for re-election in November. He therefore hopes – despite the rapid spread of the epidemic – to be able to return to normal operation “as soon as possible”.

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He hoped the current state of emergency would not last for months, Trump said. “I hope it goes away faster,” he said, referring to the virus. On Tuesday, he had said that he wanted to see the country largely closed by Easter. Now he added: “Life and security have priority, then the economy.”

The government is therefore considering a relaxation of restrictions by area, depending on the risk category. Critics fear, however, that easing the situation for citizens and businesses in some parts of the country could accelerate the spread of the virus again, especially since there are no borders between the parts of the country. The virus is also transmitted by people who have no symptoms.

Trump does not keep his distance

Trump himself does not seem to pay much attention to his guidelines for combating the corona virus. On Friday, he showed up at the signing of the law, which is to pump around $ 2 trillion into the troubled US economy, surrounded by 15 cabinet members, advisors, members of Congress and senators – crowded in the Oval Office.

President Trump Signs CARES Act After Passage By The House

US President Donald Trump signs the stimulus package in the Oval Office of the White House – without keeping the safety distance

Source: Bloomberg / Erin Schaff

None of the attendees adhered to the two-meter safety distance proposed by the United States Department of Health at the ceremony.

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