The Department of Defense will make available medical supplies and devices including up to 5 million single-use respirator masks, 2,000 deployable ventilators, and at least 14 testing labs to aid the response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to reporting from The Washington Post.
Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper said the respirators and ventilators will come from the U.S. military’s strategic reserves and will be offered to the Department of Health and Human Services for distribution.
“The first 1 million masks will be made available immediately,” Esper said, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon.
U.S. officials have warned that there is a shortage of respirators and ventilators as the United States works to boost its capacity to test for the virus quickly. Medical experts have said the nation needs about 3.5 billion respirators to handle a severe outbreak.
Using the military’s ventilators requires special training, Esper said, but the Pentagon is “committed to supporting HHS’s requirements in any way we can.”
The labs have been certified to test for the novel coronavirus among Defense Department personnel and also will be used to test samples from civilians. Two more laboratories will soon join the list, Esper said.
Read more from The Washington Post.
Featured image: aerial view of the Pentagon.