Coronavirus spurs Trump to invoke Defense Production Act 'just in case we need it'

Decision means the private sector can ramp up manufacturing of emergency supplies

President Trump will invoke the Defense Production Act because of the coronavirus pandemic, he said at a press conference Wednesday.

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"We'll be invoking the Defense Production Act just in case we need it. I think you all know what it is, and it can do a lot of good things if we need it," Trump said, adding that he'd sign it after the presser.

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The decision means the private sector can ramp up manufacturing of emergency supplies, including medical equipment.

President Donald Trump speaks during press briefing with the Coronavirus Task Force, at the White House, Wednesday, March 18, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

In addition, the administration is pushing for direct payments to relieve people suffering financially because of the virus. Trump said the size of those checks is "to be determined."

Trump had said he hoped he didn't need the Defense Production Act because "it's a big step" in a Tuesday's press conference.

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President Trump declared a national emergency and enacted emergency powers outlined in the Stafford Act on Friday.