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Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

An AP report finds that the shortage of medical supplies in the United States correlated with the drop in imports, mainly from China.

Why it matters: Emergency rooms, hospitals, and clinics are starting to run out of key supplies needed to protect health care officials and test potentially sick individuals, AP notes.

The state of play: The Trump administration is considering lifting some of the tariffs against China with the support of U.S. businesses and health care officials, The Wall Street Journal writes.

  • The latest delivery of medical-grade N95 masks arrived from China on Feb. 19, and 13 shipments of non-medical-grade N95 masks have reached the U.S. in the past month, per AP. These masks filter out 95% of all airborne particles.
  • Hand sanitizer and swab imports dropped by 40%. Swabs are needed for a variety of reasons, but they help test for the coronavirus as well.
  • Over-the-counter medical shipments have dropped, with only 5 shipping containers of medical thermometers arriving in the U.S during the last 30 days.

Thought bubble: Axios' Sam Baker says this helps explain why President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, an emergency tool that allows the government to bolster domestic manufacturing. But it also makes it even more surprising that the U.S. has not actually used that tool yet.

Go deeper: China's coronavirus outbreak prompts congressional scrutiny of health supply chain

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.