Pelosi urges stronger U.S. federal response to coronavirus


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday urged the Trump administration to do more to implement widespread testing for the coronavirus and deliver critical supplies to combat the outbreak, saying there needed to be a more coordinated response.

Pelosi told MSNBC that President Donald Trump should immediately leverage the Defense Production Act to spur production of ventilators for patients and personal protective equipment for healthcare workers coping with the outbreak, which has claimed more than 3,000 lives in the United States so far.

The Defense Production Act, which was passed in 1950, grants the president the power to expand industrial production of key materials or products for national security and other reasons.

“There’s an overall appeal for him to do much, much more,” Pelosi, a Democrat, told the network in an interview. “This is nothing that can be handled piecemeal. It has to be across the board.”

“We haven’t had the proper testing,” Pelosi added.

The United States has ramped up testing after numerous setbacks but still lags behind other countries on a per capita basis. Trump, a Republican, said on Monday that more than 1 million Americans had been tested for coronavirus – less than 3% of the population.

Pelosi also said lawmakers needed to take up a fourth coronavirus-related bill to focus on recovery in the aftermath of the outbreak.

Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Susan Heavey; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Paul Simao