On Wednesday, President Trump, referring to himself as a “wartime president” announced he would use the Defense Production Act “in case we need it” to fight against the coronavirus that is ravaging the world.
For an explanation of the Defense Production Act see here.
The Associated Press reported, “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 U.S. economy and rewritten the rules of American society. A second ship will be deployed to the West Coast.”
Trump said the effort to fight the coronavirus was reminiscent of World War II and require national “sacrifice,” adding, “It’s a war. I view it as a, in a sense, a wartime president. It’s a very tough situation.”
Vice President Mike Pence warned on Wednesday morning that people who don’t display symptoms of the virus should let those with symptoms take priority, asserting, “It’s important to remember that people without symptoms should not get tested. We want to make sure the supply of testing is there for those who need it most.”
History.com wrote of the American homefront during World War II:
In the earliest days of America’s participation in the war, panic gripped the country. If the Japanese military could successfully attack Hawaii and inflict damage on the naval fleet and casualties among innocent civilians, many people wondered what was to prevent a similar assault on the U.S. mainland, particularly along the Pacific coast?
This fear of attack translated into a ready acceptance by a majority of Americans of the need to sacrifice in order to achieve victory. During the spring of 1942, a rationing program was established that set limits on the amount of gas, food and clothing consumers could purchase. Families were issued ration stamps that were used to buy their allotment of everything from meat, sugar, fat, butter, vegetables and fruit to gas, tires, clothing and fuel oil. The United States Office of War Information released posters in which Americans were urged to “Do with less–so they’ll have enough” (“they” referred to U.S. troops). Meanwhile, individuals and communities conducted drives for the collection of scrap metal, aluminum cans and rubber, all of which were recycled and used to produce armaments. Individuals purchased U.S. war bonds to help pay for the high cost of armed conflict.
The Economic History Association noted of the United States preparing for World War II:
As war spread throughout Europe and Asia between 1939 and 1941, nowhere was the federal government’s leadership more important than in the realm of “preparedness” — the national project to ready for war by enlarging the military, strengthening certain allies such as Great Britain, and above all converting America’s industrial base to produce armaments and other war materiel rather than civilian goods. “Conversion” was the key issue in American economic life in 1940-1942. In many industries, company executives resisted converting to military production because they did not want to lose consumer market share to competitors who did not convert. Conversion thus became a goal pursued by public officials and labor leaders.