David Shuey
4 min readMar 27, 2020


I’m not sure what you’re saying in regards to the first few points, but feel free to come back and clarify if you like.

As for the rest, I hope you caught my first two paragraphs where I was pretty clear I’m on-board with social distancing and supporting our healthcare system in these dire times.

First, I want to say: I’m all for using a “hammer” Tomas Pueyo talks about if necessary to stop the spread of this virus. i.e. extreme measures and social distancing. Most every leader is coming to this realization as they’re piecing together quickly moving epidemiological facts and projections. In fact, I’m writing this in social isolation in Chicago, Illinois, where the governor just declared a “stay at home” order. Most of you readers are doing the same.

Additionally, the healthcare sector should be given all the resources they’re asking for — test kits, ventilators, masks, swabs to administer tests, civil understanding (as surgeries are postponed, upsetting patients) — as they attempt to draw all their resources together for a worst-case scenario. It’s already happened in Italy, the hardest hit country, with hospitals at their breaking point and Italian military called in to impose a “coronavirus lockdown.”

And ventilators/respirators have been a priority call these past few days.

This culminated in Donald Trump — after several tantrum-like Tweets this morning — invoking the Defense Production Act hours just now on March 27 to produce more. Let’s hope the need is filled.

“As usual with ‘this’ General Motors, things just never seem to work out,” Trump tweeted. “They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.”

“Always a mess with Mary B.,” he added, referring to Mary T. Barra, the company’s chief executive.Trump’s tweets drew rebukes from Democrats, including Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who noted in a tweet that General Motors had sold its idled plant in Lordstown in his home state last year to an electric truck maker.


“If the President cared about its former workers, he would know that,” Brown tweeted. “Instead of throwing a tantrum on Twitter, why don’t you just invoke the DPA?”

Brown’s call to invoke the Defense Production Act echoed those of many Democrats — including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — who have questioned why Trump hasn’t used the measure more aggressively.

In recent days, Trump has said the act, initially used during the Korean War, has provided strong leverage as he talks to private companies about voluntarily making products needed for the response to the pandemic.

“Mr. President, you have the power to order GM and thousands of other companies to start making ventilators, masks, and tests,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), another lawmaker who responded to Trump, said in a tweet. “Stop whining. Use the powers Congress has given you. NOW. Every additional day you wait costs countless lives.”

From NY Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/26/us/politics/coronavirus-ventilators-trump.html

From CNN:

President Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act for the first time, requiring General Motors to supply ventilators.

“Today, I signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to use any and all authority available under the Defense Production Act to require General Motors to accept, perform, and prioritize federal contracts for ventilators,” Trump said in a statement.

Some context: US automakers have come to the rescue when the nation has faced supply shortages during wartime in the past. Ford built heavy bomber airplanes and GM built amphibious assault craft, among other things. So it seems only natural that, in the rush to address the critical shortage of ventilators in the US due to the coronavirus pandemic, automakers would again be among the first to answer the call to help.

Last week, Trump tweeted that automakers have the green light to make ventilators, although he stopped short of issuing formal orders to do so under the Defense Production Act at that time.

Nevertheless, Ford, GM, Toyota and Tesla, which have all temporarily shut down their factories in recent weeks, have pledged to help.

But switching from cars to ventilators is not so easy. Ventilators are complex machines that use sophisticated software and specialized parts, and companies that seek to manufacture them face several hurdles — including intellectual property rights, the need for specially trained workers, regulatory approvals and safety considerations.



David Shuey

Writer. Researcher. Designer. Human seeking better outcomes for all. Empiricism, relevant facts, and logical arguments > simple narratives.