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Senator Murphy calls on Trump to fully take advantage of Defense Production Act

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., held a live chat Tuesday on Twitter with U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, to call on President Donald Trump to fully utilize the Defense Production Act to order U.S. manufacturers to produce urgently needed medical equipment and supplies.

They have introduced the Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act, which would force Trump to use the act.

“Right now we have a medical supply chain system that is fundamentaly broken. We have a desperate need for ventilators, masks, gowns and tests. We aren’t making enough, and ... even when we are managing to make these critical supplies, they aren’t getting to where they need to be fast enough,” Murphy said.

Murphy said at the beginning of the pandemic, the U.S. had 170,000 ventilators, but medical experts estimate one million Americans could need the machines.

Murphy said Trump has used the DPA in a "limited" capacity to manufacture a couple thousand additional ventilators, which he called "a couple drops in the ocean."

The new bill calls for 200,000 ventilators, 500 million N95 masks, 20 million face shields, 500 million gloves and 20 million surgical gowns. It also would establish a team in the White House to approve technologies, such as 3D printing, to make some of the equipment.

Once made, Murphy said, the equipment needs to go to the places with the highest need. Right now, he said, it's going to places that will pay the highest price. Absent federal action, governors are taking on the responsibility of scouring the world for this equipment and are coming across scam artists and shady deals.

At a news briefing in Hartford on Monday, Gov. Ned Lamont said the state had received a "small delivery" of equipment from the federal government, including 111,000 N95 masks and 146,000 surgical masks. On Tuesday, he said the state received 50 ventilators.

j.bergman@theday.com

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