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Trump briefs reporters in the White House on March 21. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump should use the Defense Production Act to ramp up the country's domestic production of medical masks, gowns and other items crucial for health care workers to fight the novel coronavirus, the American Hospital Association, American Medical Association and American Nurses Association wrote in a letter on Saturday.

Why it matters: Officials on the White House coronavirus task force had no firm answers on Saturday when asked when doctors and nurses across the country can expect to receive face masks to protect themselves while treating patients with COVID-19.

What they're saying: "Even with an infusion of supplies from the strategic stockpile and other federal resources, there will not be enough medical supplies, including ventilators, to respond to the projected COVID-­19 outbreak. We have heard of health care providers reusing masks or resorting to makeshift alternatives for masks," the agencies write to the president.

The other side: "The President has invoked the Defense Production Act to ensure that the necessary authorities will be available to prioritize production of items under government contracts and to allocate scarce items where they are needed most. He is currently using it to drive the private-sector’s response to this crisis," a White House official told Axios' Alayna Treene.

  • "And the private-sector’s response, to date, to his direction has been overwhelming, fulfilling government-identified needs faster than anyone thought possible," the official added.

Go deeper: Defense Production Act: What you need to know

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
4 mins ago - Science

Biden's military space future

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

President-elect Joe Biden should anticipate major and minor conflicts in space from even the earliest days of his presidency.

The big picture: President Donald Trump's military and civil space policies are well-documented, but Biden's record and views on space are less clear.

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus may have been in U.S. in December 2019, study finds — Hospital crisis deepens as holiday season nears.
  2. Politics: Bipartisan group of senators unveil $908 billion COVID stimulus proposalFDA chief was called to West Wing to explain why agency hasn't moved faster on vaccine — The words that actually persuade people on the pandemic
  3. Vaccine: Moderna to file for FDA emergency use authorizationVaccinating rural America won't be easy — Being last in the vaccine queue is young people's next big COVID test.
  4. States: Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as New York's COVID capacity dwindles.
  5. World: European regulators to assess first COVID-19 vaccine by Dec. 29
  6. 🎧 Podcast: The state of play of the top vaccines.

Bipartisan group of senators unveils $908 billion COVID stimulus proposal

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) in the Capitol in 2018. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call

A bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday proposed a $908 billion coronavirus stimulus package, in one of the few concrete steps toward COVID relief made by Congress in several months.

Why it matters: Recent data shows that the economic recovery is floundering as coronavirus cases surge and hospitals threaten to be overwhelmed heading into what is likely to be a grim winter.