The federal government is preparing guidance on how hospitals should function if they run out of supplies and equipment, a precaution and an acknowledgment that some medical facilities could be overwhelmed by the rapidly escalating covid-19 pandemic.Brett P. Giroir, assistant secretary for health for the Department of Health and Human Services, said Saturday that officials are updating formal guidance issued in November on how hospitals should respond if supplies like masks, face shields and other protective equipment run out.As the country taps the strategic national stockpile and ramps up efforts to produce more protective equipment for health-care workers, Giroir said, he hopes that day never arrives. But he acknowledged it could and said the government needs to be ready.In recent days, White House officials have solicited advice from emergency physicians, officials in the state of Washington who handled the first deadly outbreak of the coronavirus that causes covid-19 and others about the previously unthinkable prospect of health-care workers without masks, eye shields and ventilators, according to seven people inside and outside the administration with knowledge of the discussions.William Jaquis, president of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said federal officials have asked him and his colleagues to “talk through strategies”

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