US President Donald Trump announced during a Wednesday briefing that he is invoking the Defense Production Act in order to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.This would allow the US government to speed up production of necessary equipment for testing drugs to combat the virus. This news comes after it was reported by the Wall Street Journal that the White House was reportedly considering rolling out an executive order that would expand the testing of drugs against the coronavirus, but was stopped by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).According to the WSJ, citing a senior government official, the order, which was to be entitled "Executive Order to Save Lives," was to have greatly expanded the testing of drugs and other medical therapies in order to combat the coronavirus. However, this was reportedly opposed by senior scientists in the FDA because it could potentially pose an unnecessary risk to patients. If true, this conflict would be the most notable between the organization and the White House in recent years.
In addition, Trump also confirmed reports that the US Navy hospital ships USNS Mercy (T-AH-19) and USNS Comfort (T-AH-20) will be sent to New York and the West Coast respectively to aid in the Defense Department's relief efforts to contain the domestic cases of the coronavirus outbreak. According to reports on Tuesday, the idea behind the ships' deployment was originally to take on non-coronavirus cases from hospitals along the coast. Doing this would allow those hospitals to devote their resources to treating serious cases of COVID-19. However, it is unclear how long it would take for the ships to be fully stocked and staffed for their deployment.Reuters contributed to this report.