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Rep. Ryan seeks to federalize industries for medical supplies

HOWLAND — U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan is proposing the federal government take over the medical supply chain and have President Donald Trump order industries to make needed equipment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ryan, D-Howland, said Tuesday his bill, to be proposed shortly, would require companies to make 500 million N95 respirator masks, 200,000 ventilators, 20 million face shields, 500 million pairs of surgical gloves and 20 million surgical gowns.

All of the products are in demand and in short supply, Ryan said.

“This is about compelling the president to act and get moving on this,” Ryan said.

The proposed Medical Supply Chain Emergency Act would federalize the manufacturing and distribution of these needed medical supplies to get them into the hands of states and thousands of hospitals competing for them, Ryan said.

It would also require the president to implement the Defense Production Act to direct distribution of these supplies, as well as end the competition among states and medical institutions for the resources, he said.

Ryan said this should have been done two months ago.

“It’s time to act,” he said. “The clock is ticking.”

The medical supplies are desperately needed, Ryan said.

Businesses need to “start immediately cranking out this product,” he said.

Meanwhile, Federal Emergency Management Agency Administrator Peter Gaynor said Tuesday the administration would implement the act to secure 500 million masks — the same amount Ryan is seeking — as well as about 60,000 test kits. Each kit serves about 300 to 400 patients.

Trump invoked the act last week, but hasn’t activated it.

Ryan said price controls also will be included in his proposal.

“We want to make sure people aren’t ripping people off in a global pandemic,” Ryan said.

He also said businesses “are anxious to participate” and “are ready, willing and able.”

With first responders and health care workers “putting their lives on the line to protect our communities, we need to do our part and get them the supplies they need to do their jobs and keep themselves and their patients safe,” Ryan said.

dskolnick@tribtoday.com

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