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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

America's new goalpost: Build tens of thousands of ventilators and assemble and reuse billions of face masks in the next few weeks to ward off some of the worst-case scenarios from the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: We need to give medical professionals, first responders and essential personnel (like grocery store staff) every possible tool to treat the ill and avoid getting sick.

The first wave of need is right now: New York has 7,000 ventilators and needs 30,000 — and America's essential personnel need an estimated 3.5 billion N95 masks.

  • Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been pleading with the Trump administration for help. He is asking it to either use the Defense Production Act for ventilator production or to tap the federal stockpile to provide 20,000 machines. VP Mike Pence said today that 4,000 more are on the way.
  • Cuomo says he needs the ventilator stockpile during the next few weeks, then promises he'll pass them to other parts of the country as their own outbreaks peak.

The second wave is coming fast: As outbreaks grow in other states, manufacturers will be needed to dramatically expand the national capacity.

Face masks and protective gear:

  • Honeywell is hiring 500 additional workers and gearing up to produce more respirators, but the company says it’ll take up to 30 days to set up an additional manufacturing plant.
  • 3M says it has doubled its N95 manufacturing output, producing 35 million a month in the U.S. Around 90% of those masks are going to hospital employees.
  • Ford will start producing 100,000 plastic face shields per week — the company expects 75,000 to be finished by the end of this week — and is investigating how to 3D print disposable respirators.
  • 3M is working with Ford to pump out powered air-purifying respirators.
  • The FDA is easing rules for importing needed products, including personal protective equipment like N95s, into the U.S.
  • Tens of millions of additional N95 masks targeted for construction uses can now be sold to hospitals, thanks to new legislation signed last week.
  • Apple has donated 9 million N95 masks, Vice President Mike Pence said on Tuesday.
  • Many hospitals are starting to disinfect and reuse respirator masks with UV light machines while they wait for backlogged supply.

Ventilators:

  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk purchased 1,255 ventilators in China and had them shipped to LA.
  • GE Healthcare has added shifts and hired workers to build ventilators around the clock at its manufacturing facility in Wisconsin. Since the outbreak began, GE Healthcare has doubled its capacity for ventilator production and has plans to double it again by the end of Q2 2020.
    • Ford and GE Healthcare are collaborating on a simplified version of GE Healthcare’s existing ventilator designed specifically to support COVID-19 patients with respiratory failure or difficulty breathing. Ford is looking to build these simpler ventilators at its own factory, but no date has been given.
  • GM is helping Ventec Life Systems to ramp up ventilator production, with a goal to produce 200,000 machines at Ventec's facility in suburban Seattle, and potentially at a GM electronics plant in Indiana.
  • The FDA has relaxed some regulations to allow these modifications, a critical step.
  • Yes, but: Ventilators need to be used in properly equipped, sanitized units, and many rural areas simply don’t have those types of rooms. They also require skilled personnel to keep them running and patients alive.

The bottom line: President Trump says he hopes the country can start returning to normal by Easter.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to clarify that Gov. Cuomo wants federal help with ventilators, not respirators.

Go deeper

Laurel Hubbard to become 1st openly trans athlete to compete at Olympics

New Zealand's Laurel Hubbard at the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia, when she became the first openly transgender athlete to represent NZ. Photo: Scott Barbour/Getty Images

The New Zealand Olympic Committee has announced that Laurel Hubbard has been selected for the women's weightlifting team for the Tokyo Games — making her the first openly transgender athlete to compete at the event.

The big picture: Hubbard, 43, is part of a five-member Kiwi weightlifting team and will compete in the women's super heavyweight category. Meanwhile, BMX rider Chelsea Wolfe will become the first openly trans athlete to travel to the Olympics with Team USA, when she arrives in Tokyo as a reserve rider.

American Airlines cuts hundreds of flights amid demand surge

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

American Airlines announced Sunday that it's cutting some 950 flights from its schedule, including 296 this weekend, to reduce potential pressure on its operations, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

Driving the news: The U.S. vaccine rollout has led to a massive increase in travel bookings. The airline noted in an emailed statement that it's facing an "incredibly quick ramp up of customer demand."

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Florida Pride parade fatal crash a "tragic accident," police say

Participants walk away as police investigate the scene where a pickup truck drove into a crowd of people at a Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, on Saturday. Photo: Jason Koerner/Getty Images

Police said Sunday they believe a driver unintentionally hit spectators at a weekend Pride parade in Wilton Manors, Florida, resulting in the death of one man and leaving another person hospitalized.

The latest: Addressing speculation that the crash may have been a hate crime against the LGBTQ community, Wilton Manors police chief Gary Blocker said in a statement: "Today we know yesterday's incident was a tragic accident, and not a criminal act directed at anyone, or any group of individuals."

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