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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

Column / Harder Line

New England power fight foreshadows divisive clean energy future

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It wasn’t his first choice, but Sean Mahoney isn’t fighting a 150-mile proposed power line sending Canadian hydropower to New England as part of the region’s climate-change goals.

Why he matters: Mahoney, a senior expert at the nonprofit Conservation Law Foundation who lives in Maine, is seeking to compromise in a bitter battle over the proposal. Expect more fights like this as President Biden and other political leaders pursue zero-carbon economies over the next 30 years.

Mike Allen, author of AM
8 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden adviser Cedric Richmond sees first-term progress on reparations

Illustration: "Axios on HBO"

White House senior adviser Cedric Richmond told "Axios on HBO" that it's "doable" for President Biden to make first-term progress on breaking down barriers for people of color, while Congress studies reparations for slavery.

Why it matters: Biden said on the campaign trail that he supports creation of a commission to study and develop proposals for reparations — direct payments for African-Americans.

Cyber CEO: Next war will hit regular Americans online

Any future real-world conflict between the United States and an adversary like China or Russia will have direct impacts on regular Americans because of the risk of cyber attack, Kevin Mandia, CEO of cybersecurity company FireEye, tells "Axios on HBO."

What they're saying: "The next conflict where the gloves come off in cyber, the American citizen will be dragged into it, whether they want to be or not. Period."