It’s time for President Trump to enact the powers of the Defense Production Act to ensure that all 50 states have the best chance possible to get the increasing number of N95 masks, ventilators and other protective gear needed to fight COVID-19.

Weeks into this pandemic, we still don’t have enough protective equipment. If numbers continue to rise, we will likely see our hospitals overrun and too few ventilators to treat the men and women seeking treatment for complications from the virus.

Without action by the president to impel the production by American manufacturers to produce the protective gear and medical equipment needed, more people will die unnecessarily. We can save lives by enacting the Defense Protection Act. Protective gear protects people and limits the spread of the disease.

The Defense Production Act should be acted upon immediately to ramp up the manufacture and distribution of the critical supplies our hospitals need, here and across America. Every day the president waits to exercise this power is another day the virus spreads and puts managing it further beyond the health care systems capabilities, in Kansas and across the nation.

In a March 21 letter to the president, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and the American Nurses Association, urged Trump to take action, writing “America’s hospitals, health systems, physicians and nurses urge you to immediately use the DPA to increase the domestic production of medical supplies and equipment that hospitals, health systems, physicians, nurses and all front line providers so desperately need. As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country, these supplies are urgently needed to care for our patients and communities.”

While the federal government has offered resources to address the devastating economic losses this virus is wreaking, they haven’t done enough to actually help those on the front lines of containing it.

It’s been reported that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is opposed to the enactment of the DPA, preferring instead to let the private sector handle the needs voluntarily. That’s not an acceptable solution.

Kansas doesn’t win in a system where we have to bid against other states for protective supplies. We don’t have the volume or the resources to make our bids competitive against larger states.

We must listen to the health care experts who know the extent of the need for ventilators and protective gear. What they’re saying could make a difference in our efforts to fight this pandemic.

President Trump must use the powers available to him to get our American businesses manufacturing and distributing critical supplies. There’s no time to waste.