"When we went to war, we didn't say, 'Any company out there want to build a battleship? ... Maybe a couple of you guys can get together and build a battleship ... maybe, you think?'" he said, dripping with sarcasm. "That's not how you did it. The president's said it's a war. It is a war. Well, then, act like it's a war."
Cuomo said that New York has received only 400 ventilators from the federal government. "FEMA says, 'We're sending 400 ventilators.' Really? What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000?"
Jamie E. Baker, former legal adviser to the National Security Council and a professor at Syracuse University, said: "If there is a gap between voluntary production and what is needed, or anticipated to be needed, the DPA is the mechanism to close that gap."
Before the abrupt reversal by FEMA, its chief, Gaynor, said Tuesday that the agency planned to use the wartime powers also in the production of 500 million face masks, inserting DPA provisions into contracts with companies providing the masks.
One of the companies that is waiting to sign a contract with FEMA is Los Angeles Apparel, a South-Central clothing maker that is part of a consortium, including HanesBrands and Parkdale Mills. The companies are teaming up to produce masks, though not the medical kind needed for front-line health care professionals.
Dov Charney, Los Angeles Apparel's founder, said he has a preliminary agreement with FEMA to produce an as-yet undetermined amount of washable masks for what he expects will be about $2 apiece.
Charney said his 500-employee operation, which makes sweatshirts, T-shirts and other apparel, already has sold or given away more than 30,000 masks.
He said he expected face masks to be a long-term product line for the company. And he welcomed a contract with FEMA, with a guaranteed purchase price.
"I think there's a profit in all this," he said.
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