The U.S. Export-Import Bank of the United States said on Tuesday it was temporarily withdrawing all financial support for exports of critical medical equipment and supplies needed to fight the coronavirus, including respirators, face shields, gloves and other personal protective equipment.
The exclusion order, which will remain in place until Sept. 30, was unanimously approved by the export credit agency's board of directors "to help ensure the United States has medical supplies and equipment that are in short supply and necessary to combat and prevent the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic in the United States," EXIM said in a statement.
The U.S. has become the epicenter of the global pandemic, with more than 23,000 dead and around 600,000 confirmed infections by Johns Hopkins University's count.
On Tuesday, New York, the country’s worst-hit city, reported 778 deaths over the previous 24 hours, although the governor said fatalities had been leveling off, while hospitalizations and the number of new patients put on ventilators have continued to drop, showing that social distancing is working.
Worldwide, about 2 million confirmed infections have been reported and over 120,000 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University. The figures understate the true size of the pandemic, because of limited testing, uneven counting of the dead and concealment by some governments.
U.S. hospitals have been inundated with COVID-19 patients, while the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) previously announced late March that the Strategic National Stockpile is running out of N95 respirators, surgical masks, face, shields, gowns and other medical supplies vital to protect front-line medical workers.
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