Updated at 12:30 p.m. ET
President Trump plans to use a medical equipment distribution center in the swing state of Pennsylvania on Thursday as the backdrop for his argument to bring manufacturing supply chains back to the United States from overseas.
Trump, who has long pushed to boost domestic manufacturing as part of his “America First” ethos, says the coronavirus pandemic proves his point.
Trump is scheduled to make his remarks at 2:15 p.m. ET after touring a distribution center in Allentown, Pa., owned by Owens & Minor, a company that makes masks and other personal protective equipment.
“Look, there’s nothing good about what happened with the plague, OK — especially the death — but the one thing is, it said, ‘Trump was right,’ ” Trump said in an interview that aired on Thursday on Fox Business News.
Most facilities that make active ingredients for medicine sold in the United States are offshore, according to Food and Drug Administration figures. The biggest suppliers of active pharmaceutical ingredients are India and China.
During the pandemic, the U.S. also has raced to find supplies of medical equipment and test supplies from abroad.
“I was getting a lot of fightback, even from people that I like a lot in Congress, and now they’re not fighting,” Trump said. “These stupid supply chains that are all over the world … one little piece of the world goes bad, and the whole thing is messed up.”
Trump did not directly answer questions about whether he would seek to provide incentives for drugmakers and other manufacturers to locate operations in the U.S., but he did allude to taxes or tariffs on production done overseas.
The administration plans to rebuild the national stockpile of medical supplies to create a 90-day “buffer” for future cataclysmic events, three senior administration officials told reporters on a conference call.
The goal is to have a stockpile large enough to allow for time to kick-start “surge manufacturing” of additional supplies by fall, the officials said. Over the next few months, the administration hopes to add 300 million N95 masks, 67 million medical gowns as well as critical drugs and testing supplies. Over time, the plan is to have as many as 1 billion masks available, they said.
“What we’re doing is creating a much more robust, much more capable and much less vulnerable strategic national stockpile,” one of the officials said.