March 17, 2020 / 7:56 PM / 14 days ago

Pentagon to free up one million respirator masks immediately for coronavirus

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask is seen following the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in New York City, U.S., March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Jeenah Moon

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. military will make available up to 5 million respirator masks and protective equipment, including 1 million immediately, from its strategic reserves for U.S. government distribution, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday.

Esper told a news conference the Pentagon would also be prepared to distribute up to 2,000 deployable ventilators. He added that the U.S. military’s laboratories would additionally be made available to start carrying out coronavirus tests for civilians, increasing U.S. testing capacity.

Reporting by Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

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