Construction workers join war on coronavirus

Doctors and nurses are raising an outcry over lack of personal protective equipment like masks

Vice President Mike Pence praised construction companies for donating masks to local health care workers at a press conference on the coronavirus pandemic Thursday.

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"It is encouraging, as we called out yesterday, to see construction companies all across America that are, as we speak, checking their supplies and donating those industrial masks to their local hospitals," Pence said. "I know I speak on behalf of the president, who spent a lot of time as a builder, when we thank builders across America for partnering with our local health care officials."

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Pence's comments come as doctors and nurses are raising an outcry over lack of personal protective equipment like masks to keep them from contracting or spreading the virus.

Vice President Mike Pence, center, speaks as President Donald Trump and White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, right, listen during press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Thursday, March 19, 2020,

"I really want to applaud the frontline health care workers, the nurses, the doctors, and testers," White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx added on Thursday. "We are deeply grateful [to] the number, as the vice president said, of individuals have come forward with their construction masks, their booties, their Tyvek suits and  their masks to contribute them to the health care sector."

President Trump's decision on Wednesday to invoke the Defense Production Act will ramp up the production of needed medical supplies.

"We're encouraged to see companies like Honeywell and 3M, that I visited a few short weeks ago, take advantage of changes in the law last night that allow the sale of industrial masks directly to hospitals," Pence said. "Following the signing of last night's bill, all of those masks now have liability protection."

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