Mar 21, 2020 - Politics & Policy

America's hospitals, doctors and nurses urge Trump to ramp up medical supplies

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

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Cuomo says New York is "literally going day-to-day with our supplies"

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference on Sunday that New York is struggling to maintain medical supplies while combatting the novel coronavirus — operating "literally" on a "day-to-day" basis.

Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.

U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll passes 9,600

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Recorded deaths from the novel coronavirus surpassed 9,600 in the U.S. Sunday night, per Johns Hopkins data. The death toll in the U.S. has risen over 1,000 every day since April 1.

Why it matters: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams said on Sunday this upcoming week will be "the hardest and saddest week of most Americans' lives" — calling it our "our Pearl Harbor, our 9/11 moment."

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Trump blasts U.S. Navy captain who sounded alarm about coronavirus

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump on Saturday said he agreed with the Pentagon's decision to relieve Capt. Brett Crozier of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt after the captain sent a letter to officials pleading for help as members of his crew contracted the coronavirus.

What he's saying: "The letter was a five-page letter from a captain, and the letter was all over the place," Trump said at a White House briefing on Saturday. "That's not appropriate. I don't think that's appropriate. And these are tough people. These are tough, strong people. I thought it looked terrible, to be honest with you."