The White House just ousted a Pentagon official from a key role in the pandemic response

The White House just ousted a Pentagon official from a key role in the pandemic response
U.S. armed forces assigned to Task Force Southeast, Federal Emergency Management Agency and state of Pennsylvania Emergency Medical Services personnel, gather to discuss medical relief efforts during the Coronavirus pandemic, in Stroudsburg, Pa., April 14, 2020. Through coordination, a COVID-19 alternate care facility was erected to treat regional patients during the pandemic. TF-SE provides defense support of civil authorities in FEMA regions III and IV on behalf of the Department of Defense's COVID-19 response. U.S. Northern Command, through U.S. Army North, is providing military support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help communities in need. (U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Daniel J. Alkana, 22nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment)

During the coronavirus crisis, Jennifer Santos has been played an important role in the Pentagon’s efforts to increase production of vital medical items such as N-95 masks and the swabs used in COVID-19 testing. But on Thursday, according to Politico, the Pentagon confirmed that Santos — who has been serving as deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy — will be moved to a position in the U.S. Navy.

CNN quotes Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, a Pentagon spokesman, as saying, “The Department can confirm that Ms. Jennifer Santos is moving from her current position as the department's deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial policy to the Department of the Navy.”

According to Andrews, the decision to move Santos from the Pentagon to the U.S. Navy did not come from her immediate boss — Ellen Lord, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment — but rather, from “the White House and interagency.”

In her role at the Pentagon, Santos has been using the Defense Production Act of 1950 to help ramp up the production of medical equipment. President Donald Trump’s administration was initially reluctant to invoke the Defense Production Act, although it later used it to increase production of ventilators — which have been in heavy demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

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