NEW YORK (CBSNewYork)Sen. Charles Schumer wants President Donald Trump to name a czar to oversee production and distribution of medical equipment, including ventilators and personal protective equipment to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

Schumer said that person should be a military official.

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“It’s like a war, and we need all the help we can get,” Schumer said. “That’s why today I am renewing my push for a senior military officer — a czar — to be in charge of manufacturing and distribution and have the full authority of the president to send the materials where they are most needed immediately.”


Schumer said such a system would prevent states from bidding and competing against each other for scarce resources.

“I’m asking the president to do this now. This is the best way. The military knows how to do these things. They know command and control. They know logistics. They know how to get thousands and thousands of materials to the right place at the right time. And they’ve done it before,” Schumer said. “One person, a leading military figure with the president’s full backing, who can say to this plant, you make this, and then we need it exactly here.”

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Schumer said Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, are giving the suggestion “serious consideration.”

“This needs to work like a military operation, because in fact we are at war,” Schumer said. “When you talk to experts across the country, this is what they say they need.”

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Earlier this week, Mayor Bill de Blasio named former NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill to a similar role in New York City, saying he would be responsible for overseeing the distribution of medical equipment within the city.