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White House To Hold Coronavirus Briefing As Supply Struggles Intensify


President Trump and Vice President Pence attend a teleconference with governors at the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters on Thursday. Evan Vucci

With concerns mounting over supply shortages in combating the coronavirus, the Trump administration is trying to show it's in control of the sprawling crisis.

The White House is set to hold one of its now daily briefings at 11:45 a.m. ET.

Health care facilities across the country have reported shortages of supplies as seemingly simple as swabs in addition to protective gear and ventilators.

On Thursday, President Trump and Vice President Pence teleconferenced with governors from the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters, a day after Trump signed "Phase 2" of coronavirus relief measures.

Pence addressed concerns over supply shortages, saying, "President Trump has been engaging industry leaders in the supply chain across the country to make sure that personal protective equipment and medical supplies are broadly available."

Pence said the administration is currently surveying health care providers and supplies. He said officials have identified tens of thousands of ventilators, including some that can be converted to treat coronavirus patients. The vice president instructed governors to take inventory of medical supply needs and check on their supply chains.

South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem voiced concerns that her state may be overlooked because it is smaller. She said that her state lab had run out of reagent supplies needed for testing and that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had pushed for her state to order through commercial suppliers that were canceling orders. She said that in one case, a hospital received reagents even though it wasn't equipped to run tests for the coronavirus.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar instructed her to get in touch with her regional FEMA director and said he would help her after the call.

Trump is expected to participate in a phone call in the afternoon with small business owners on the COVID-19 response.

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