President Signs Memo to Help Make Facemasks More Readily Available

Wednesday March 11th, President Donald J. Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum directing his Cabinet to make general use face masks available to our healthcare workers. This is yet another decisive action to safeguard the health and safety of the American people, especially our Nation’s dedicated healthcare providers, during the COVID-19 public health emergency. President Trump is focused on the health of the American people, and so his Administration has taken action to provide protection to manufacturers that will enable production of millions of additional masks for our healthcare providers.

The text of the Memo Reads:

The Secretary of Health and Human Services has already taken bold steps to incentivize the development of vaccines, therapeutics and other products and expand the availability of other needed products to address COVID-19 by issuing a declaration under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act. Today’s Food and Drug Administration letter on the March 2 Emergency Use Authorization will help make available millions of general use respirators to keep healthcare workers safe, mitigate further transmission of the disease, and address supply concerns.

In light of today’s actions, we hope that Congress will consider amendments to the PREP Act and make these protections permanent.

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
THE SECRETARY OF LABOR

SUBJECT: Making General Use Respirators Available

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

It is the policy of the United States to take proactive measures to prepare for and respond to public health threats, including the public health emergency involving Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which was declared by the Secretary of Health and Human Services on February 4, 2020, pursuant to section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3). We must ensure that our healthcare providers have full access to the products they need. On March 10, 2020, the Secretary of Health and Human Services took action by issuing a declaration pursuant to section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6d), which will help bring products necessary for addressing the epidemic to healthcare providers across the Nation. Unfortunately, at present, public health experts anticipate shortages in the supply of personal respiratory devices (respirators) available for use by healthcare workers in mitigating further transmission of COVID-19.

To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall take all appropriate and necessary steps with respect to general use respirators to facilitate their emergency use by healthcare personnel in healthcare facilities and elsewhere, including under the authorities granted by section 319F-3 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 247d-6d) and section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3). Additionally, the Secretary of Labor shall consider all appropriate and necessary steps to increase the availability of respirators.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

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