FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the coronavirus task force daily briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON/DETROIT (Reuters) – President Donald Trump urged General Motors Co and Ford Motor Co on Friday to quickly build badly needed ventilators for COVID-19 patients and suggested he could invoke the Defense Production Act.

GM (GM.N) and Ford (F.N) announced they are working with companies to help boost ventilator production in recent days. Many Democrats including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have urged Trump to invoke the law and require industrial companies to build medical equipment.

Trump also attacked GM for closing an Ohio factory last year. GM sold the Lordstown, Ohio assembly plant last year to an electric truck start-up.

“General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!! FORD, GET GOING ON VENTILATORS, FAST!!!!!!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

“They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar.”

GM and Ford did not immediately comment.

Trump’s comments came after a New York Times story Thursday suggested the White House had backed away from announcing a major ventilator deal with GM and Ventec because the price tag was too high. That drew significant criticism from Democrats.

Other automakers have said they are working on ventilators. On Friday, Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) said it was “finalizing agreements to begin working with at least two companies that produce ventilators and respirators to help increase their capacity.”

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Diane Craft

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