"Today, I signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize Federal contracts for ventilators," the US president said via White House news release from the Office of the Press Secretary.
Trump went on to slam the Detroit-based General Motors corporation, claiming that they were "wasting time" during negotiations over their ability to supply ventilators - which are vital for those with respiratory issues brought on by the novel coronavirus.
"Today’s action will help ensure the quick production of ventilators that will save American lives," he concluded.
General Motors spokesman Daniel Flores fired back at the US president's assertion that they were dragging their feet in negotiations.
GM's response to this, from spokesman Daniel Flores: "Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for over a week to meet this urgent need. Our commitment to build Ventec’s high-quality critical care ventilator, VOCSN, has never wavered." (via @Hassouny)— Monica Alba (@albamonica) March 27, 2020
Earlier Friday, Trump issued multiple tweets concerning ventilators and General Motors - including one post that called on the corporation to use its assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio, which was sold to a start-up back in November 2019.
General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!! @GeneralMotors @Ford— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 27, 2020
Speaking to Fox News' Sean Hannity on his self-titled opinion show on Thursday, Trump did not appear too concerned about the estimated number of ventilators needed to treat COVID-19 patients.
"I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go to major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘can we order 30,000 ventilators?’” he contended, without providing concrete evidence to support his belief. He immediately went on to say "we have to get back to work," referring to the reopening of select businesses.
While Trump has been highlighting the state of the economy and the country's need to resume work, the US has been experiencing an increasing number of COVID-19-related deaths and, on Thursday, surpassed China for the most amount of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the world.