Apr 1, 2020

Axios PM

By Mike Allen
Mike Allen

Good afternoon: Today's PM — edited by Justin Green — is 496 words, a 2-minute read.

1 big thing: The well is running dry

Medical workers wear masks as they walk back to GW hospital in D.C. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. government's great coronavirus airlift came not a minute too soon.

  • Trump administration officials are anonymously sounding the alarm that America's emergency stockpile of personal protective equipment is running dangerously low, the WashPost reports this afternoon.

Why it matters: Masks, ventilators, face shields and gloves are the only things keeping health care workers healthy right now.

  • If they fall sick, that further reduces our health care system's capacity just when demand is surging well beyond what it can handle in the best-case scenario, Axios' Caitlin Owens says.
  • “The stockpile was ... never built or designed to fight a 50-state pandemic,” a Homeland Security official told the WashPost.
  • “This is not only a U.S. government problem. The supply chain for PPE worldwide has broken down, and there is a lot of price-gouging happening.”

The big picture: The World Health Organization warned about low stockpiles in early February.

  • Now the U.S. faces a monster outbreak in New York at the same time as other state outbreaks are beginning to surge.
  • This is also why states that aren't hurting yet need to pause elective medical procedures in order to preserve PPE. It's not clear the federal government will be able to help those whose surges come later.

Between the lines: U.S. medical personnel are being silenced for speaking out, Bloomberg reports.

  • Washington State: Ming Lin, an emergency room physician, "said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he’d given an interview ... detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing."
  • "In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty."
  • "In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization."

The bottom line: The N.Y. Times reports the CDC is considering advising everyone to wear a non-medical mask.

  • Current CDC guidelines say: "You may need to improvise a face mask using a scarf or bandana.”
Bonus: Pic du jour
Photo: Elise Amendola/AP

Sherry Yu demonstrates a free-standing booth for coronavirus testing at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

  • The booths reduce the need for personal protective equipment.
2. Catch up quick
  1. Federal government latest: Vice President Pence said White House modeling suggests "Italy may be the most comparable area to the United States" in virus impact.
  2. State updates: Florida and Pennsylvania issue stay-at-home orders, totaling 35 states plus D.C. and Puerto Rico.
  3. 2020 update: West Virginia delays its primary — Bernie Sanders urged Wisconsin to delay its April 7 primary.
  4.  🎧 Podcast: The Defense Production Act.
3. 1 helpful thing: Harry Potter at home

A wand in every pocket: J.K. Rowling is hoping a dash of Harry Potter will help families confined to their homes during the coronavirus pandemic, AP reports.

  • The author has launched an online portal with quizzes, games and puzzles.
  • Rowling said: "The teachers, parents and carers working to keep children’s lives as normal and happy as possible while we’re all on lockdown deserve a bit of magic."

The author has partnered with Audible and library e-book supplier OverDrive for free audio and digital editions of "Harry Potter's and the Sorcerer's Stone."

Mike Allen