Nick Miroff | April 1, 2020
The government’s emergency stockpile of respirator masks, gloves and other medical supplies is running low and is nearly exhausted due to the coronavirus outbreak, leaving the Trump administration and the states to compete for personal protective equipment in a freewheeling global marketplace rife with profiteering and price-gouging, according to Department of Homeland Security officials involved in the frantic acquisition effort.
As coronavirus hot spots flare from coast to coast, the demand for safety equipment — also known as personal protective equipment (PPE) — is both immediate and widespread
, with health officials, hospital executives and governors saying that their shortages are critical and that health-care workers are putting their lives at risk while trying to help the surging number of patients.
A stockpile of 1.5 million expired N95 masks
that U.S. Customs and Border Protection has in storage will be distributed to the Transportation Security Administration and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, CBP said in a statement. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued guidelines for the safe use of masks with expiration dates that have passed, potentially leaving their elastic bands too loose to form a proper face seal.
Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) said this week she and other lawmakers were told some of the expired CBP masks would be given to hospitals.
“Officials confirmed that the masks would indeed go to healthcare workers and be prioritized by highest need such as NY and NJ. I will follow up to make sure this happens!” she tweeted Sunday.
Read the full story here