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President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence give a coronavirus task force briefing on March 19. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Officials on the White House coronavirus task force had no firm answers on Saturday when asked when doctors and nurses across the country would receive medical masks to protect themselves while treating patients with the novel coronavirus.

What they're saying: "Sooner than weeks, it's going to be days, I would hope. We're going to try to make it days to the best possible way that we can," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, replied when reporters asked him about the timeline for delivering masks.

Why it matters: Hospitals around the country are running out of masks and other protective gear, and health care workers are taking desperate steps to protect themselves from exposure to COVID-19, Axios' Caitlin Owens.

Where it stands: The Department of Health and Human Services "just placed an order for hundreds of millions of N95 masks," Vice President Pence said on Saturday, saying the order cost half a billion dollars and was coordinated through FEMA. It was unclear when or with what company the order for the masks was placed.

The state of play: 141 people died in the U.S. from COVID-19 between Tuesday and Friday. Hospitals are urging the federal government to approve emergency aid as soon as possible, fearful of shutting down over lack of funds. More states are issuing stay-at-home orders to promote social distancing.

  • A "Phase 3" coronavirus stimulus package to bring relief to potentially millions of Americans facing unemployment is being hashed out on the Hill. Pence said on Saturday that members of the task force are working with Congress to pass the legislation on Monday.
  • White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters on Saturday that the new stimulus package would be between $1.3 trillion and $1.4 trillion, the New York Times' Emily Cochrane reports.

Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus cases surge by over 10,000 in three days

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Senate action on stimulus bill continues as Dems reach deal on jobless aid

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democratic leaders struck an agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.) on emergency unemployment insurance late Friday, clearing the way for Senate action on President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package to resume after an hours-long delay.

The state of play: The Senate will now work through votes on a series of amendments that are expected to last overnight into early Saturday morning.

Capitol review panel recommends more police, mobile fencing

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

A panel appointed by Congress to review security measures at the Capitol is recommending several changes, including mobile fencing and a bigger Capitol police force, to safeguard the area after a riotous mob breached the building on Jan. 6.

Why it matters: Law enforcement officials have warned there could be new plots to attack the area and target lawmakers, including during a speech President Biden is expected to give to a joint session of Congress.

Financial fallout from the Texas deep freeze

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Texas has thawed out after an Arctic freeze last month threw the state into a power crisis. But the financial turmoil from power grid shock is just starting to take shape.

Why it matters: In total, electricity companies are billions of dollars short on the post-storm payments they now owe to the state's grid operator. There's no clear path for how they will pay — something being watched closely across the country as extreme weather events become more common.