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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited supplies of medical equipment.

Why it matters: We can’t manufacture enough medical masks or ventilators in time to meet the enormous surge in demand that's expected to hit in mid-April. The next-best thing is trying to make what we have last as long as possible.

As it became clear that medical supply shortages would be a problem, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released strategies for stretching mask supplies, which included reusing masks or, in truly desperate times, using bandanas and scarves as substitutes.

  • The Trump administration has drastically loosened regulations on medical supplies, expanding the kinds of masks health care workers can use and speeding up the importation process for medical supplies.
  • The administration is working to acquire 100,000 ventilators by the end of June, but most states are expected to have already experienced the worst of their outbreaks by then.

What's next: States, hospitals and the federal government are trying to make existing supplies last while they desperately try to find more equipment.

  • The administration is airlifting in millions of masks, gloves and face shields, mostly from Asia.
  • And yesterday it announced that it’s delivering hundreds of thousands of hoarded masks and gloves that were confiscated.
  • The administration announced yesterday that it’s using additional authority under the Defense Production Act to speed up ventilator production.
  • But Politico reported yesterday that Federal Emergency Management Agency officials told the House Oversight Committee this week that there are only 9,500 ventilators in the Strategic National Stockpile, and only 3,200 more will become available by the week of April 13.

On the ground, the effort is even more intense.

  • Doctors in New York are already thinking about how to decide which patients will receive limited ventilator supplies, the New York Times reports. Some hospitals are experimenting with putting more than one patient on one ventilator — an unproven method.
  • And then there’s the bidding war: New York state is paying up to 15 times the normal price for medical equipment, amidst unprecedented demand, ProPublica reports.

Yes, but: All of this may be too late.

Go deeper

53 mins ago - Health

Biden administration to lift travel ban for fully vaccinated international travelers

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House COVID-19 response coordinator Jeff Zients announced on Monday that the Biden administration will allow fully vaccinated travelers from around the world to enter the U.S. beginning in November.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as President Biden seeks commitments from countries to donate vaccines to the global COVAX initiative. He is expected to host a COVID summit on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly this week, and many of the countries attending have expressed frustration with the travel ban.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Gen Z breaks into VC

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When Meagan Loyst joined VC firm Lerer Hippeau, less than two years out of Boston College, she was still living with her parents. She had virtually no online brand presence, and the pandemic made it impossible to build a professional network via in-person meetings.

Why it matters: Loyst wasn't alone. Venture firms have accelerated hiring in line with record deal activity, often seeking younger investors who can spot trends that fly below the radar (or intrinsic understanding) of older partners.

White House aims to protect workers from extreme heat

Two pear pickers in Hood River, Oregon on August 13, 2021. (Michael Hanson/AFP via Getty Images)

The White House announced a slew of actions Monday, including the start of a rule-making process at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), to protect American workers from extreme heat.

Driving the news: The U.S. just had its hottest summer on record, with triple-digit-temperatures killing hundreds in the Pacific Northwest and exposing outdoor workers to dangerous conditions.