Peter Navarro on securing medical supply chain: We cannot 'go back to sleep' after coronavirus crisis ends

As the number of coronavirus cases grows in the United States, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told "The Story" Tuesday night that the Trump administration is working to secure America's medical supply chain and ramp up production of life-saving medicines to eliminate the long-time reliance on foreign governments.

"My job here at the White House is to be a soldier, out making sure the supply chain works so that we have everything we need to treat our people," Navarro said.

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"The problem that we face [is that] the government does not buy American enough," he added. "The government, VA [Veterans Affairs], HHS [Health & Human Services], DOD [Defense Department are] tremendously large consumers of medicine, medical supplies, and medical equipment."

A nurse prepares medicines for patients at Jinyintan Hospital designated for new coronavirus infected patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Blood supplies in several Chinese cities are reporting shortages amid travel restrictions that keep potential donors at home. (Chinatopix via AP)

A nurse prepares medicines for patients at Jinyintan Hospital designated for new coronavirus infected patients, in Wuhan in central China's Hubei province. Blood supplies in several Chinese cities are reporting shortages amid travel restrictions that keep potential donors at home. (Chinatopix via AP)

The spread of the novel virus throughout the country in recent weeks has underscored some experts' long-held worries about U.S. "over-reliance" on Chinese pharmaceutical production. America essentially ceased domestic production of penicillin in around 2004 -- a move which was applauded as a way to save money on generic drugs, but has been the source of much concern in recent years.

Navarro said he was working with President Trump to finalize an executive order which would provide long-term incentives for American companies to produce medications and medical supplies locally.

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"What we've got to do is three things," he explained. "We are going to have to buy American, we are going to deregulate so we can get things done faster, and most importantly, we are going to innovate to keep prices down."

"We are going to be in a better place over time because we are going to produce things here in America."

— Peter Navarro, 'The Story'

"That's the big picture," he continued. "We cannot keep having these public health crises and go back to sleep like the previous administrations have. This is going to be different this time and we are going to get through this ...and we are going to be in a better place over time because we are going to produce things here in America."

Asked to reassure the public about the administration's handling of the outbreak and the economic toll it is likely to take, Navarro expressed confidence in the president and urged the public to obey precautions encouraged by public health officials.

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"We have essentially a wartime president now in the war against the coronavirus," Navarro said.

"We need to flatten the curve. We are confident [that] working together with the American people, doing what the CDC [Center for Disease Control & Prevention] recommends, with government and business, that we are going to get through this to the other side."

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The American people "are very strong people," Navarro continued.

"I can tell you this, we are doing everything possible working 24/7....it's going to be fine. We've just got to work to get this through. Everybody's got to pull together. There can't be any dissension in the ranks."

Fox News' Hollie McKay contributed to this report.