WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump said on Friday that he would meet advisers early next week to discuss the next steps in fighting the coronavirus and the possibility of opening the U.S. economy, and said the United States would produce 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.
Trump named White House aide Peter Navarro to coordinate production of the Defense Production Act, which the president invoked on Friday to require General Motors Co to build ventilators for coronavirus patients.
“We’re going to make a lot of ventilators,” Trump said, pledging to take care of U.S. needs while also helping other countries.
Trump said there was a good chance the United States would not need so many ventilators to fight the coronavirus outbreak and hoped there would be “leftovers.”
Trump has been advocating for tough restrictions on people and businesses to be loosened at least in some areas of the country in an effort to get the economy humming again by Easter on April 12.
On Friday he seemed to shift his tone, however, saying the priorities were life, safety and then the economy. He did not mention a deadline.
Vice President Mike Pence said on Thursday that advisers would be giving Trump recommendations over the weekend on next steps. The White House on March 16 put in place recommendations to tackle the coronavirus by encouraging people not to gather in groups of larger than 10 people, avoid dining at restaurants and bars, and to school their children at home.
(Reporting by Steve Holland, Eric Beech and Jeff Mason; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)