Pentagon to free up one million respirator masks immediately for coronavirus

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Respirator mask

Machinist Mate 1st Class Charles Ater, of Huntsville, Alabama, demonstrates proper wear of the respirator during a half mask filtering face piece respirator fit test in the hangar bay aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7). Iwo Jima (Nov. 4, 2017)

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.