Saying he was on a wartime footing, President Donald Trump said Wednesday he was invoking the Defense Production Act to ramp up the country's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
"Right after we finish this conference, I'll be signing it and it's prepared to go," Trump told reporters.
The move will enable the U.S. government to speed production of equipment necessary to test drugs to combat the virus.
Trump also said the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would suspend foreclosures and evictions through the end of April.
In addition, Trump said health professionals are working on a self-test for the deadly disease, which officially has hit all 50 U.S. states .
Trump said that the U.S. Navy hospital ships Mercy and Comfort will be sent to New York and the West Coast respectively to aid in the Defense Department's relief efforts to contain the domestic cases of the coronavirus outbreak.
Vice President Mike Pence said at the news conference that doctors will be allowed to cross state lines regardless of their state licenses to treat more coronavirus patients.
Pence said the new regulation is being enacted "to meet the need of hospitals that may arise in adjoining areas."
Earlier in the day, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reportedly warned Republican senators Tuesday morning that without action the pandemic could drive up U.S. unemployment to 20%.
Trump said at the news conference that he did not "agree with that" and said the figure was "a worst-case scenario."
The coronavirus originated in China and Trump referred to the disease as the "Chinese virus." When questioned about it by a reporter Wednesday, Trump said "that's where it came from," and maintained the term "was not racist at all."