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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

5 hours ago - Health

Axios AM Deep Dive: Covid forever

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It was 563 days ago that the WHO declared Covid-19 a pandemic. This Axios AM Deep Dive, led by healthcare reporter Caitlin Owens, looks at our Covid future.

Federal judge blocks vaccine mandate for NYC teachers

Students are dismissed from the first day of school at PS 133 in Brooklyn on Sept. 13. Photo: Michael Nagle/Xinhua via Getty Images

A federal appeals court judge on Friday temporarily blocked New York City schools from enforcing a vaccine mandate for school employees, days before it was set to take effect, AP reports.

Driving the news: The vaccine mandate was set to begin on Monday, prompting concerns over staffing shortages in schools across the nation's largest school system.

CCP releases two jailed Canadians after Huawei CFO deal with DOJ

Photo: Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Two Canadians imprisoned by the Chinese government for over 1,000 days have been released and are expected to arrive in Canada on Saturday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Friday.

Why it matters: Their release comes hours after Huawei Technologies CFO Meng Wanzhou reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice that resolves the criminal charges against her and could pave the way for her to return to China.