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A woman makes face masks at a textile factory in Yemen's capital, Sanaa, on March 16. Photo: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images

Apple, GM and Tesla are among the U.S. firms diversifying from their specialist areas to help deliver essential medical supplies like masks and ventilators to assist in the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Why it matters: Testing capacity for COVID-19 has expanded in the U.S., as demand for medical equipment increases. Leading medical associations expressed concern in a letter to President Trump Saturday that "there will not be enough medical supplies, including ventilators, to respond to the projected COVID-­19 outbreak."

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Doctors have reported a shortage of N95 fitted masks, "a necessary tool to prevent healthy people from getting sick because they help block 95% of microbes," notes Axios' Marisa Fernandez.
  • Case numbers surged to 26,747 in the U.S. early Sunday — the third-highest in the world after China and Italy.

Leading the charge: An Apple spokesperson told Axios that the tech giant would donate millions of masks to authorities worldwide — including 2 million to the Trump administration to distribute around the U.S. and a further 1 million to California's government.

  • President Trump praised Hanes clothing company at a White House briefing Saturday for "retrofitting its manufacturing capabilities in large sections of the plants to produce masks and they're in the process right now."
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who has previously downplayed the coronavirus, said his company would provide 250,000 masks to California hospitals, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) told a news conference Saturday.
  • Tesla is in talks with medical device company Medtronic to make "state-of-the-art ventilators," Musk tweeted Saturday.
  • American brewer Anheuser-Busch announced Saturday it's using its supply and logistics network to begin producing and distributing bottles of hand sanitizer.
  • GM and Ventec Life Systems announced in a statement Friday that they are collaborating, in cooperation with StopTheSpread.org, the nation's coordinated private sector response to the COVID-19, "to enable Ventec to increase production of its respiratory care products" including ventilators.
  • GM and Ford both confirmed Thursday they were in talks with the Trump administration about the possibility of making such medical equipment to assist in the fight against the virus.
  • Freight logistics firm Flexport has "successfully sourced and is buying around $1.4 million worth of face-masks and other medical protective equipment that were requested by San Francisco's Department of Public Health," per Axios' Dan Primack.

The big picture: Trump invoked the Defense Production Act in order to help get medical supplies where needed.

  • A White House official told Axios' Alayna Treene the president is using the Defense Production Act to drive the private-sector’s response to this crisis. "[T]he private-sector’s response, to date, to his direction has been overwhelming, fulfilling government-identified needs faster than anyone thought possible," the official said.
  • Vice President Mike Pence said at the briefing Saturday the Department of Health and Human Services had "placed an order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks," though it's unclear when these would arrive.

Go deeper: Delivery date of medical masks to doctors, nurses unclear

Go deeper

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. ahead of pace on vaccines.
  2. Health: Lessons for trapping the next pandemic.
  3. Tech: "Fludemic" model accurately maps COVID hotspotsVirtual doctor's visits and digital health tools take off.
  4. Politics: Harris breaks tie as Senate proceeds with lengthy debate on COVID relief bill — Republican governor of West Virginia says there's no plan to lift mask mandate.
  5. World: Canada vaccine panel recommends 4 months between doses — In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine its hardly using.
Dave Lawler, author of World
58 mins ago - World

In AstraZeneca spat, EU fights hard for a vaccine it's hardly using

Macron, Merkel and European Council President Charles Michel (R) at a summit in October. Photo: Yves Herman/Pool/AFP via Getty

Italy on Thursday blocked the export of 250,000 AstraZeneca doses to Australia, becoming the first EU country to exercise an export ban due to a vaccine shortfall in the bloc.

Why it matters: The controversial step exposes multiple major challenges to distributing vaccines — even among the world’s richest countries.

Dave Lawler, author of World
1 hour ago - World

Global freedom continues steady decline: report

The global erosion of democracy has continued for a 15th consecutive year, according to an annual report from Freedom House.

Zoom in: The report calls particular attention to India, which slipped from “free” to “partly free” due to the government's “scapegoating of Muslims” and “crackdown on critics.” Prime Minister Narendra Modi is, according to the report, “driving India itself toward authoritarianism.”