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The Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York City. Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Image

The executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration acknowledged in an interview with the Washington Post that the system faces a shortage of masks and personal protective equipment after VA officials initially denied the insufficiencies.

Why it matters: "The shortages, and the agency’s claims that they did not exist, have been a low point in what observers say is an otherwise commendable response by VA to the pandemic," the Post writes.

The state of play: Stone claimed the Federal Emergency Management Agency told vendors with orders from the VA to send that equipment to FEMA so the federal government's dwindling emergency stockpile could be refilled.

“The supply system was responding to FEMA. I couldn’t tell you when my next delivery was coming in," Richard Stone, the VA's health chief, told the Post.

  • Meanwhile, the VA’s 4-week supply of equipment — in 170 medical centers — was depleted, as the system used approximately 200,000 masks in a day, Stone said.
  • After VA Secretary Robert Wilkie appealed to FEMA officials this past week, FEMA said it provided the VA with 500,000 masks, but made no mention of diverting equipment to the national stockpile, the Post notes.
  • Stone said a similar shipment arrived last week, allowing him to ease policies so VA employees working directly with coronavirus patients could get one face mask a day.
  • He also noted the system was newly able to test staff for COVID-19 in recent weeks.

The impact: VA employees have organized protests, saying they were unsafe.

  • Meanwhile, the Labor Department is reportedly investigating a union complaint that employees at one VA hospital were ordered to continue working after they believed they contracted COVID-19.
  • On Thursday, Senate Democrats on the Trump administration, in a letter to Vice President Pence, to get supplies to VA hospitals, per the Post.

Models indicated the coronavirus could put as many as 200,000 of the 9 million veterans in VA’s system in the hospital.

  • So far, the numbers have fallen short of those estimates, the Post writes.
  • The system is now reaching out to help veterans in state facilities.

Go deeper: Fixing America's broken coronavirus supply chain

Go deeper

White House, Democrats no closer to reaching coronavirus stimulus deal

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took the standoff on the next coronavirus stimulus package to ABC's "This Week" on Sunday.

Why it matters: Enhanced unemployment insurance expired for tens of millions of Americans on July 31, while those in talks to secure the next coronavirus stimulus package have made it clear that a deal is a long way off.

Aug 2, 2020 - World

Berlin protesters clash with police at massive anti-lockdown rally

Thousands of demonstrators protest against the current measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus, in Berlin, Aug. 1. Photo: John MacDougall/AFP via Getty Images

Berlin police said Saturday night at least 18 officers were injured while trying to disperse a large crowd protesting Germany's coronavirus lockdown measures, according to a DW.com translation.

The big picture: Many in the estimated crowd of 17,000, made up of conspiracy theorists, right-wing populists and others, were not wearing masks, reports AP, which notes: "Unlike the U.S., Brazil and Britain, Germany’s government has been praised worldwide for its management of the pandemic." The country has confirmed more than 211,000 cases and just over 9,100 deaths from COVID-19, per Johns Hopkins data.

Editor's note: The top photo in this post has been replaced. The earlier photo depicted a demonstration against evictions.

Aug 3, 2020 - Health

The pandemic hasn't hampered the health care industry

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The economy has been tanking. Coronavirus infections and deaths have been rising. And the health care industry is as rich as ever.

The big picture: Second-quarter results are still pouring in, but so far, a vast majority of health care companies are reporting profits that many people assumed would not have been possible as the pandemic raged on.