Washington: Managing dual health and economic crises, President Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that he will invoke a federal provision that allows the government to marshal the private sector in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump, appearing in the White House briefing room for the third day in a row, said he would sign the Defense Production Act "in case we need it" as the government bolsters resources for an expected surge in cases of the virus.
Trump also said he will expand the nation's testing capacity and deploy a Navy hospital ship to New York City, which is rapidly becoming the epicenter of a pandemic that has rattled the US economy and rewritten the rules of American society.
A second ship will be deployed to the West Coast.
The president also said the Housing and Urban Development Department will suspend foreclosures and evictions through April as a growing number of Americans face losing jobs and missing rent and mortgage payments.
The steps came on a fast-moving day of developments. Trump and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau jointly announced that the US-Canada border would be closed, except for essential personnel and for trade, as the nations try to reduce the spread of a virus afflicting people in both countries.
The administration has told Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 and the elderly to stay home while a pointed reminder was given to millennials to follow the guidelines and avoid social gatherings. Trump likened the effort to the measures taken during the Second World War and said it would require national "sacrifice."