One midsized company that benefited from the DOD awards was SolAero Technologies, an Albuquerque firm that makes satellite solar power systems and employs about 320 people. Feeling restricted by wearing a mask is real. The Pentagon did initially plan to spend the bulk of the $1 billion fund on medical supplies. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in Senate testimony last week that states desperately need $6 billion to distribute vaccines to Americans early next year. Trump administration spent money meant for face masks and other PPE on jet engine parts. called for an investigation and public hearings. “How we do that, with what workforce, is up to us,” he said. More than a third of the awards were for less than $5 million and went to smaller firms such as the American Woolen Co. in Connecticut, which received $2 million to help make Army dress uniforms. While serving in Iraq, I had no choice but to limit the number of people and the length of the service because the battle space posed a threat to the faithful. In April, Lord told reporters that three-quarters would go toward medical resources, and the rest to defense contractors. Petrow: Why wearing face masks to fight COVID-19 shows hope for our future. Companies that sell aircraft parts for both military and commercial jets, for example, have been financially wrecked by a global slowdown in air travel. ‘Understanding Acquisition’, U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Army Aeromedical Research Laboratory, https://mrdc.amedd.army.mil/index.cfm/resources/covid-19. SolAero worked with the Pentagon to check if the company was eligible for other relief programs, which it was not, Clevenger said. WRAIR is also publishing the highest-quality images of the COVID-19 virus spike—the spindle that protrudes from the virus itself, and by which the virus attaches itself to the lungs—which are serving as a road map for vaccine and therapy development. "So it expands the pool, and allows us to use even more money while taking the balance of the $1 billion that came through for DPA Title III, and use a portion of that for the defense industrial base," Lord said at the hearing. » READ MORE: 200,000 people in the U.S. have died of COVID-19. Chad Sweet, chief executive and cofounder of ModalAI, said the company's proposal was long-planned — it started applying for the Pentagon funds last summer, several months before the pandemic hit. Arm yourself with knowledge, keep calm and carry hand sanitizer. The Democratic-controlled House Committee on Appropriations has made clear that the Defense Department’s decision to funnel the DPA funding to defense contractors went against its intent in that section of the Cares Act, which was to spur the manufacturing of personal protective equipment. Get up to 20% off. Interested in how Pennsylvania is shaping the 2020 election? WRAIR, for example, is actively working with the National Institutes of Health and industry partners to evaluate promising vaccines in various stages of development. The virus-related funding came at a time when U.S. military spending was already near all-time highs. Esper’s visit was the centerpiece of a busy March at USAMRDC, which saw similar visits from Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James C. McConville and Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston in the same week. The Pentagon warned the White House about a shortage of ventilators, face masks, and hospital beds in 2017—but the Trump administration did nothing. » READ MORE: What to expect over the next six months of pandemic life, according to Philly experts. The $1 billion fund was allocated under the Defense Production Act, which allows Trump to compel U.S. companies to manufacture products in the nation's interest. Editorial cartoons on COVID-19 Coronavirus, Trump, Biden, Democrats, racial strife and more from across the USA TODAY Network.