By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – U.S. President Donald Trump lashed out Friday against American manufacturer General Motors (GM), claiming the company is falling far short in its production of badly-needed ventilators amid the coronavirus outbreak.
"They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, 'very quickly'. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar," Trump said in a Twitter tirade, further lashing out at company CEO Mary Barra and threatening to invoke a war-time law that would allow him to mandate production.
The Defense Production Act is a 1950 war powers act originally signed into effect at the onset of the Korean War. Trump activated it last Wednesday but has yet to officially invoke the law as confirmed U.S. infections of the potentially fatal virus have surpassed those of all other countries.
Trump said GM "MUST immediately" open its "stupidly abandoned" plant in Lordstown, Ohio "or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!"
"FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!" he said.
He further claimed his administration has purchased "many Ventilators from some wonderful companies," and said company names and the number purchased would be announced later Friday.
The badly-needed medical equipment are vital as the coronavirus attacks the human respiratory tract with the potential to cause pneumonia and death. Ventilators mechanically insert and remove air from the lungs.
There are 558,502 confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide, including 25,251 deaths, according to a running tally being compiled by Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.
After first appearing in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December the virus has spread to at least 176 countries and regions, the university's data indicates.