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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OPEC's balancing act: increasing output against smaller demand

An off-shore oil platform in California. Photo: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC+) coalition is entering the next phase of fraught market-management efforts that have repercussions for the battered U.S. oil industry.

Driving the news: The group yesterday agreed to press ahead with plans to begin increasing output as demand haltingly recovers.

More than 32 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits

Photo: Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

More than 32 million Americans are receiving some form of unemployment benefits, according to data released by the Labor Department on Thursday.

Why it matters: Tens of millions of jobless Americans will soon have a smaller cash cushion — as coronavirus cases surge and certain parts of the country re-enter pandemic lockdowns — barring an extension of the more generous unemployment benefits that are set to expire at the end of the month.

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Alumni fight to save college sports

Data: Mat Talk Online; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

242 collegiate athletic programs have been cut amid the pandemic, altering the careers and lives of thousands of student-athletes.

Yes, but: Some passionate alumni groups have opted to fight, banding together in hopes of saving the programs they helped build and continue to love.