U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he had put the Defense Production Act into action after saying earlier this week he would invoke the measure, but essentially put it on hold until needed.
The measure is meant to allow the U.S. government to speed production of masks, respirators, ventilators and other needed equipment to fight the coronavirus outbreak.
Trump said he put the measure into action on Thursday evening.
Asked why he was putting it into action now, the president told reporters it would be used to ensure that U.S. states could get masks and other equipment needed to fight the virus.
The law, which dates back to the Korean War of the 1950s, grants the president broad authority to "expedite and expand the supply of resources from the U.S. industrial base to support military, energy, space, and homeland security programs," according to a summary on the Federal Emergency Management Agency website.