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President Trump answers questions from reporters on April 3. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump accused "wartime profiteers" of buying, hoarding and exporting medical equipment and protective gear on Friday, in a Defense Production Act directive for FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security to prevent such conduct.

The big picture: Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited inventories of medical equipment to fight the coronavirus crisis, as the U.S. is unlikely to be able to manufacture enough medical masks and ventilators in time for a surge in demand expected to hit in mid-April.

Flashback: "We do have a problem of hoarding. We have some healthcare workers, some hospitals, frankly — individual hospitals and hospital chains — we have them hoarding equipment, including ventilators," Trump said in a cabinet meeting with supply chain distributors on Sunday.

  • "You know, there’s a question as to hoarding of ventilators.  Some hospitals and independent hospitals — and some hospital chains, as we call them — they are holding ventilators; they don’t want to let them up.  We need them for certain areas where there’s big problems," Trump said at a White House coronavirus task force briefing on Monday.

Details: The president's memo on Friday directs the Secretary of Homeland Security and FEMA administrator to use "all authority available" under the Defense Production Act "to allocate to domestic use, as appropriate," N-95 respirators, PPE surgical masks, PPE gloves and other face respirators.

Go deeper: The well of protective gear in the U.S. is running dry

Go deeper

Updated 14 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

  1. Health: Fall and winter COVID surge "unlikely" if people get vaccinated.
  2. Politics: School boards are the next political battleground.
  3. Vaccines: Pfizer begins application for full FDA vaccine approval — Moderna says its COVID booster shot shows promise against variants.
  4. Economy: U.S. adds just 266,000 jobs in April, far below expectations.
  5. World: Asia faces massive new COVID surgeIndia records its deadliest day of the pandemic.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Kevin McCarthy officially endorses Elise Stefanik to replace Liz Cheney

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) officially endorsed Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) to become the GOP's next House Republican conference chair during a Fox News appearance Sunday.

Why it matters: The GOP has been feuding internally over the fate of the current chair, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), because of her criticisms of former President Donald Trump, and her vote to impeach him for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

Fauci: Vaccines could turn COVID-19 "surges" into "blips"

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "Meet the Press" Sunday that if more Americans get vaccinated in accordance with the Biden administration's goals, COVID-19 surges may be replaced by "blips."

State of play: Last week President Joe Biden announced his goal to get 160 million Americans fully vaccinated by July 4, with at least 70% of Americans having at least one shot.