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WATCH: Pentagon to provide 5 million respirators to health authorities

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday that the Pentagon will provide 5 million respirators and 2,000 specialized ventilators to federal health authorities to help in the response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Esper told Pentagon reporters that the ventilators are designed for use by deployed troops and the military will need to train civilians how to use them. He said some may have “single-use” limitations.

U.S. officials have talked about the shortage of ventilators to help treat patients with the virus.

The Pentagon is already helping combat the coronavirus outbreak in the United States and is considering ways to do more.

But the military faces limits. Its health care system is geared more toward handling combat casualties than infectious diseases. And there are logistical and legal concerns about expanding the military’s role in civilian affairs, such as tasking it with enforcing quarantines. Defense officials also want to be careful not to do anything to weaken its ability to defend the nation.

Secretary of Defense, Dr. Mark T. Esper, provided an update on how the Pentagon is responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak.

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