By Peter Navarro
Published March 22, 2020
President Trump has promised to unite the full force of the federal government with the full power of American enterprise to respond to the China Wuhan virus – and the response from the private sector has been overwhelming.
To understand just how this is working – and to let you, the American people, know that businesses are stepping up to help as you deal with the China coronavirus crisis by staying safe at home – let me quickly describe a week in the life here at the White House.
This will help illustrate just how hard everyone is working across the federal government to break down barriers in Trump Time, which is to say as quickly as possible.
A week ago my office got a call from Romina Khananisho, a vice president at Honeywell, with a promise to manufacture millions more N95 masks per week. However, the company needed a quick turn of a contract proposal so it could start moving machinery from Massachusetts to a manufacturing facility in Smithfield, R.I.
With an equally quick phone call, I got a commitment from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to fast-track the approval. On that basis – and relying on the good faith of this administration – Honeywell has already started scaling up the facility and submitted a second proposal for a factory in Arizona.
Last weekend I received an emergency call from HHS for assistance with securing a major shipment of China coronavirus test swabs and sample collection kits out of Italy, where flight restrictions were in effect.
These are just a few examples of what can be accomplished when the government and the private sector work closely and collaboratively to solve the nation’s most pressing issues.
My office engaged with Ronald Hann at the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to get a military flight for the pickup. Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment Ellen Lord helped with approvals up the chain.
The next day I called FedEx CEO Fred Smith and he generously agreed to have his teams meet the flight in Memphis and take the cargo to five different cities. From start to finish, the Pentagon performed superbly. With the help of Copan, the manufacturer, we got 800,000 swabs to the American people within 72 hours – and there are plenty more to come.
Last Monday I got an email from Tara Engel at the alcoholic beverage producer Pernod Ricard. The company was willing to repurpose part of its production lines to make hand sanitizer but it needed some red tape cut.
Within the hour, and after calls to the Treasury Department, the Food and Drug Administration and HHS, Pernod was on its way to producing its first batch of hand sanitizer. The company will be donating as much as 4,000 gallons a week to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for distribution across the country. And it’s all made in the U.S. at factories in Arkansas, Kentucky and elsewhere.
Currently, my office is also helping to coordinate a major effort with the National Association of Manufacturers that will involve as many as 40 companies providing everything from ventilators and vital-sign monitors, to test kits, gloves and protective suits. This is a great effort and once again we should see product flowing within days.
As a final example, I got a call from Kim Glas, who runs the National Council of Textile Organizations, with an offer we couldn’t refuse. With the help of people like Andy Warlick of Parkdale Mills and Mike Faircloth of Hanes, she has assembled a broad consortium of manufacturers willing to produce as many as 5 million masks a week, starting within weeks. This operation will involve everything from repurposing factories to flying in raw materials.
These are just a few examples of what can be accomplished when the government and the private sector work closely and collaboratively to solve the nation’s most pressing issues and what is possible when a country unites behind a strong leader like President Trump.
Even as American enterprises are stepping up as quickly and as boldly – as they did in World War II – to convert their plants to support this nation’s war on the China virus, there are still those few who seek to hoard supplies and profiteer during this crisis.
If anybody thinks they’re going to profiteer from this crisis, they’re going to answer to the full force of the Trump administration.