Coronavirus throws Olympics into doubt as Canada pulls out: Live updates

The Italian government has sent a direct appeal to Secretary of Defense Mark Esper about US military aid to help fight coronavirus, according to a US defense official.

What Italy asks for: The Italian defense minister asked Esper for critical medical equipment such as masks and ventilators.

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The Italian government also asked US military personnel stationed in Italy to help local Italian authorities by providing medical personnel and field hospitals. US personnel would support Italian troops already responding to the crisis.

How the Ministry of Defense is already helping: Esper recently made the Department of Defense's stock of masks and ventilators available to civilian hospitals in the United States.

The military has units capable of constructing field hospitals that can help relieve the burden on civilian hospitals.

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What is the bigger picture? Italy has more than 59,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, which tracks cases registered by the World Health Organization and multiple sources.

The Russian military has already made a very public effort to help the Italians. They have used military aircraft to fly in medical personnel and equipment.

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