WASHINGTON—The Department of Veterans Affairs was slow to publicly disclose the extent of mask shortages the department faced, as it dealt with an onslaught of coronavirus cases, top VA officials said this week.

Secretary Robert Wilkie and the department’s official in charge of hospitals said the U.S. medical system has been inundated with Covid-19 cases since March, straining resources at the VA and all health systems nationwide. And yet, for weeks the VA told the public, employees and veterans that the department faced no…

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