|RICHMOND (March 25, 2020) – Attorney General Mark R. Herring has joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general urging President Donald J. Trump to fully utilize the Defense Production Act to immediately prioritize the production of masks, respirators, and other critical items needed by health care workers, first responders, and law enforcement across the United States.
“We are in the middle of a public health crisis and we must do everything we can to give our healthcare providers, first responders, and law enforcement the resources and tools they need to fight this virus and keep themselves and others safe,” said Attorney General Herring. “I am joining my colleagues in sending this letter today because it is time that President Trump fully utilizes the Defense Production Act so that our country and our commonwealth can better be better prepared to handle this pandemic.”
In the letter, Attorney General Herring and his colleagues urge President Trump to fully use the Defense Production Act to dramatically increase (1) health care capacity; (2) the supply of personal protective equipment for health care providers, law enforcement, and other first responders; and (3) COVID-19 testing capacity. The U.S. health care system needs more ventilators and ICU beds. Those on the front lines of the response to the coronavirus need personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators, surgical masks, face shields, eye protection, gloves, gowns, sanitizers, cleaning supplies, and thermometers. There is a nationwide need to increase the supply of the reagents and swabs used for COVID-19 testing so that testing can be expanded substantially and, in turn, better-informed medical decisions can be made, public health officials can more effectively tailor their decisions to local conditions, and the coronavirus can be better understood and defeated sooner.
As Attorney General Herring and his colleagues say in the letter, “We are on the brink of catastrophic consequences resulting from the continued shortage of critical supplies. The federal government must act decisively now and use its sweeping authority to get as many needed supplies produced as soon as possible for distribution as quickly as possible.”
Joining Attorney General Herring in sending the letter are the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Washington, Washington D.C., and Wisconsin.