President Donald Trump on Thursday invoked the Defense Production Act to aid companies building ventilators for coronavirus patients to receive the supply of materials they need.
In a memo released by the White House, Trump directed the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to use his authority to help facilitate the supply of ventilator materials for six companies - General Electric, Hill-Rom Holdings, Medtronic, Resmed, Royal Philips N.V. and Vyaire Medical.
Lawmakers have clamored for Trump to invoke the act to end or at least reduce the country's yawning shortage of ventilators. Because the fast-spreading coronavirus is a respiratory disease, the need for ventilators is multiplying by the hundreds each day. On Thursday Johns Hopkins University said more than 1 million people around the world currently have the coronavirus.
State officials and health experts said the United States will ultimately need tens of thousands of additional ventilators.
"I am grateful to these and other domestic manufacturers for ramping up their production of ventilators during this difficult time," Trump said in a short statement released alongside the memo. "Today's order will save lives by removing obstacles in the supply chain that threaten the rapid production of ventilators."
Trump also said in a tweet that signing the Defense Production Act enabled his administration to "hit 3M hard."
An order released Thursday under the Defense Production Act authorizes the head of FEMA to "acquire" as many N95 masks from 3M or its subsidiaries as Trump deems necessary.
Last week Trump first invoked the emergency powers to compel auto giant General Motors to produce ventilators.
CNBC's Kif Leswing contributed to this report.