May 14, 2020 / 4:42 PM / 17 days ago

Trump administration aims to nab 300 mln N95 masks in 90 days -official

FILE PHOTO: Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical field personnel are seen at a New York State emergency operations incident command center during the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle, New York, U.S., March 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is seeking to add 300 million N95 masks, the respiratory protective devices that are key to protecting medical workers fighting the deadly coronavirus, to the U.S. stockpile by the fall, a senior administration official said on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters during a telephone briefing, the official said the administration hopes ultimately to replenish its strategic national stockpile, which had only 13 million N95s at the beginning of the outbreak, to 1 billion in total.

The administration is seeking to shore up medical supplies as part of a bid to prepare the country for future flare-ups of coronavirus cases, as states nationwide begin to reopen after lockdowns aimed at slowing the spread of the virus.

Facing a re-election fight in November that he has hoped to win on a strong economy, President Donald Trump has encouraged states to reopen, drawing fire from critics as the U.S. coronavirus death toll topped 82,000.

As the nation’s unemployment rate has risen above 14 percent, states have been under pressure from their own constituents to reopen.

Reporting by Alexandra Alper; Editing by Dan Grebler

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