President Donald Trump announced that he activated the National Guard in three states to help combat the coronavirus.
Trump said on Sunday said that he activated the National Guard in New York, California, and Washington state, where most of the country’s coronavirus cases are located.
"And through (Federal Emergency Management Agency), the federal government will be funding 100% of the cost of deploying national guard units to carry out approved missions to stop the virus while those governors remain in command," he said.
But Trump said the federal government would be a “backup” for state leaders.
"We'll be following them and we hope they can do the job and I think they will. I spoke with all three of the governors today, just a little while ago and they're very happy with what we're going to be doing." Trump said.
Trump refuses to use Defense Production Act:
Despite invoking the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to order companies to manufacture much-needed supplies, Trump is refusing to use it, The New York Times reports.
Trump has said that companies will voluntarily assist the process but the Times reports that it may take months for companies to start manufacturing equipment, masks, and ventilators.
“We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business,” said Trump adviser Peter Navarro. “We’re getting what we need without putting the heavy hand of government down.”
Navarro said the act would be used if companies start hoarding supplies or price gouging.
“That’s a Defense Production Act action waiting to happen,” he said. “If anybody thinks they’re going to sit on urgently needed supplies and profiteer from this crisis, they’re going to answer to the full force of the Trump administration.”
Democrats say inaction costs lives:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Trump’s inaction has led to bidding wars among states.
"The federal government should nationalize medical supply acquisition. The states simply cannot manage it," Cuomo said. "That's why I believe the federal government should take over that function of contracting and acquiring all of the medical supplies that we need."
"We can lose lives that we could have otherwise saved if we had the right equipment," he added.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed.
"If we don't get more ventilators in the next 10 days, people will die," he told CNN. "I can't be blunt enough. If the president does not act, people will die who could have lived otherwise."