President Donald Trump on Friday morning fired off several angry tweets about General Motors and Ford in which he seemed to demand that they start mass producing ventilators to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
The Daily Beast reports, however, that Trump’s tweets caused “mass confusion” within his own administration, as officials scrambled to determine whether he was actually invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up supplies of desperately needed medical equipment, or if he was just spouting off.
“Three senior Trump administration officials who have worked on these matters each independently told The Daily Beast that they were befuddled by the Friday tweets, and did not know what the president’s posts actually meant,” the publication reports. “Each official said that they were, at the time, still trying to get clarity from Trump or other senior officials on what, if anything, new had just been decreed.”
It seems, however, that nothing concrete has changed and the president is still relying on voluntary contributions from manufacturers to produce ventilators, hand sanitizer, N95 masks, and other essentials that hospitals say they need to combat the disease.
This could be a problem, the publication writes, because the Trump administration is still far behind in getting a handle on supply constraints.
“Even as the White House insists that it has a firm grasp of the country’s ventilator needs, it’s clear that the administration is still grappling with how to go about solving the shortage problem,” the report states. “Federal procurement records tell a story of a slapdash and not particularly overwhelming response effort. There are sporadic purchases of personal protection equipment, various forms of coronavirus tests, and acquisitions of medical supplies such as ventilators over the last few weeks.”