Health: A Wartime Ramp-up of Production

The Story:

On his first full day as President of the United States, Joseph Biden issued an executive order on a “sustainable public health supply chain.” The order calls upon the pertinent cabinet departments, including State, Defense, and Health, review the inventory of and necessity for personal protective equipment (PPE), vaccines, and other Covid-related supplies, and in the event inventory does not meet need, the order authorizes the use of “all available legal authorities, including the Defense Production Act, to fill these shortfalls.”

Significance:

The Defense Production Act, enacted in September 1950 in response to the outbreak of war in Korea, allows the executive branch of the federal government to requisition property, force industry to expand production and the supply of basic resources, settle labor disputes, control consumer and real estate credit, establish contractual priorities, and allocate raw materials towards national defense.

In Pill Form:

In a television address Thursday afternoon, President Biden said that when he refers to the Defense Production Act, “people look at me like, ‘wartime?'” but that “this is a wartime effort” so a centralized, government-ordered ramping-up of production of PPEs and medicines is justified.  His team has “already identified the suppliers, and we’re working with them to move the plan forward.”

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