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Today's word count is 1,340, or a 5-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Hospitals around the country are running out of medical masks and other protective gear, and health care workers are taking desperate steps to protect themselves from exposure to the novel coronavirus.
Why it matters: Keeping doctors, nurses and other providers healthy and able to work is central to America's ability to manage the crush of patients expected to flood hospitals in coming days.
What's new: We've been sounding the alarm about medical masks for awhile, but this disaster scenario is becoming reality in some places, especially New York and Washington state.
What we're watching: President Trump has invoked the Defense Protection Act, which gives the federal government extraordinary manufacturing powers, but has yet to use it.
The bottom line: We're only at the beginning of our fight against the coronavirus, and our most important line of defense — health care workers — increasingly don't have the tools they need. That's not good.
The Trump administration is taking a very public interest in an old, cheap anti-malarial drug as a potential coronavirus treatment, although it's way too soon to put much stock in its effectiveness.
What they're saying: The Food and Drug Administration is investigating whether the drug can reduce the duration of patients' symptoms in mild to moderate cases, or to reduce "viral shedding," which helps prevent disease spread.
As I reported earlier this week, pharma company Bayer is donating a large quantity of its version of the drug, Resochin, to the U.S. government. Bayer confirmed the donation of 3 million tablets yesterday.
Yes, but: Awareness of the drug's potential has bolstered demand. Chloroquine and its variant hydroxychloroquine have gone into shortage, Business Insider reports.
My thought bubble: Remember that this is an unproven treatment; there's absolutely no guarantee that it will help treat coronavirus.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a statewide stay-at-home order last night, requiring nearly 40 million people to stay at home.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's proposal for a "Phase 3" stimulus package in response to the coronavirus outbreak includes cash payments to many Americans and billions for small and large businesses. Details.
The State Department Thursday issued a Level 4 travel advisory for all international travel, warning Americans not to fly abroad due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
More than half of U.S. small business owners say their business will not be able to continue operating more than three months due to economic strain caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Goldman Sachs survey.
Sixteen senators have asked the nation's largest health insurance companies to "suspend all cost-sharing requirements connected with treatments for COVID-19 and associated health complications."
U.S. unemployment filings surged to 281,000 in the week ended March 14 — a two-year high and an increase of 70,000 from the week prior — according to Labor Department data released Thursday.
The health care industry, led by the American Hospital Association, asked Congress on Thursday for $100 billion to offset the expenses related to coronavirus testing and treatment.
Several African countries recorded their first coronavirus cases this week, and case numbers accelerated in countries including South Africa, escalating fears that Africa could be the pandemic's next frontier.
Italy's coronavirus death toll topped nearly 3,500 — now the highest in the world.
Prince Albert II of Monaco has tested positive for COVID-19, the palace announced Thursday.
Automakers and their parts suppliers are offering to produce desperately needed ventilators to keep coronavirus patients alive, but quickly retooling industrial factories to make precision medical equipment might not be feasible, despite the good intentions.
Why it matters: The U.S. faces a critical shortage of medical equipment beyond protective gear, including ventilators that help patients breathe, Axios' Joann Muller writes.
Driving the news: In a call Wednesday to inform the Trump administration of the shutdown, GM CEO Mary Barra told White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow that GM wanted to help and was studying how it could potentially support production of medical equipment like ventilators.
Yes, but: Pivoting to wartime footing for ventilators is not like churning out tanks, planes and ships for World War II, says Sandy Munro, CEO of Munro & Associates, an expert in lean manufacturing who has intimate knowledge of both the auto and medical device industries.
A loophole in the new coronavirus response legislation that President Trump signed into law this week exposes some patients to being billed for coronavirus tests — despite lawmakers' claims that the tests are free for everyone.
Details: The law says tests that have received FDA authorization must be free, but seems to leave out those tests that are awaiting or don't need such emergency approval.
Yes, but: Many insurers have pledged to fully cover the tests, so just because a patient receives one of these exempted tests doesn't mean they'll necessarily be billed.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
The demographics, work patterns and media habits of President Trump's base are putting many of his supporters at elevated risk for the health and economic impacts of coronavirus, Axios' Stef Kight and Sara Fischer report.
Why it matters: National surveys, including the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, found that Republicans and Midwesterners have been more likely to respond with less urgency than Americans who identify as Democrats or live in coastal centers.
The big picture: Senior citizens face higher risks from the virus than younger people.
When it comes to work, people in blue collar jobs that are often difficult to do remotely — in fields such as transportation, construction, maintenance and installation — were far more likely to vote for Trump than for Hillary Clinton in 2016, according to a CityLab study.
Between the lines: Disinformation and distrust in the media could be putting elderly people and some Republicans at greater risk as well.
I don't have any silver linings for you today because they stopped coming in! Maybe a prompt will help — parents, how are you handling the new normal with your kids?