Vice President Pence said during a White House press conference Wednesday that hospitals should move to delay elective procedures, as the nation's medical system scrambles to deal with those sickened by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: His request comes as states have already reported inadequate supplies of protective gear for health care workers — and as the country faces a potential severe shortage of hospital beds as the outbreak worsens.

What he said:

"We are again today asking every American and our medical community leaders and hospitals to partner with us in delaying elective procedures across the country in our health care system to ensure that medical supplies and medical capacity go where they're needed most."

The big picture: U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams asked the same over the weekend.

  • Some hospitals already started canceling or postponing elective surgeries, MarketWatch writes.

President Trump announced new measures the administration is taking to combat the spread of the virus at the briefing:

  • He said he will invoke the Korean War-era Defense Production Act which will allow the government to sign contracts to boost the production of masks and other medical supplies.
  • The Department of Housing and Urban Development is "suspending all foreclosures and evictions until the end of April."

Go deeper

Updated 49 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 31,092,895 — Total deaths: 961,301— Total recoveries: 21,274,210Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 6,812,470 — Total deaths: 199,517 — Total recoveries: 2,590,671 — Total tests: 95,108,559Map.
  3. Health: CDC updates guidances to say coronavirus can be spread through the air Nursing homes are evicting unwanted patients.
  4. Politics: Testing czar on Trump's CDC contradictions: "Everybody is right."
  5. Education: College students give failing grade on return to campus.
  6. Business: Unemployment concerns are growing.
  7. World: "The Wake-Up Call" warns the West about the consequences of mishandling a pandemic.
Ben Geman, author of Generate
1 hour ago - Energy & Environment

The climate stakes of the Supreme Court fight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ruth Bader Ginsburg's death and the battle over her vacant Supreme Court seat have real implications for energy and climate policy.

Why it matters: If President Trump replaces her, the court will likely become more skeptical of regulations that claim expansive federal power to regulate carbon under existing law, and perhaps new climate statutes as well.

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
2 hours ago - Economy & Business

The tech war between the U.S. and China escalates

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic tension between the U.S. and China continues to escalate but is shifting in focus — away from the tit-for-tat trade war and toward a more direct confrontation over the future of technology at the heart of the conflict between the world's two largest economies.

Why it matters: The battle between the U.S. and China was always about tech supremacy and the direct confrontation could result in an accelerated splintering of global supply chains and a significant reduction of international commerce.