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Nearly 1.5 million N95 respirator masks are sitting in a U.S. government warehouse in Indiana and authorities have not shipped them because they are past their expiration date, despite Centers for Disease Control guidelines that have been issued for their safe use during the coronavirus outbreak, according to five people with knowledge of the stockpile.
Department of Homeland Security officials had a conference call Wednesday to figure out what to do with the masks, which are part of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s emergency supplies. DHS officials decided to offer the respirators to the Transportation Security Administration, whose workforce has been clamoring for protective equipment, according to three of the people who described the plans on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
The article goes on to state the following:
CBP has no plans to offer the masks to hard-hit hospitals, or hand them over to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, three of the people said.
The Washington Post quoted CBP spokesman Nathan Peeters as saying that the agency is aware the supplies are available and that it has been “working with our DHS partners to determine the best use for N95 respirators in CBP’s emergency stockpile.”
The article stated that Peeters “said the agency is in the process of acquiring and distributing 1.5 million additional N95 masks and other protective gear that would be shipped in coming weeks.”
The Washington Post said TSA confirmed they have been offered a “large quantity of masks from CBP” which will be distributed to airports as needed. Another official reportedly said the expired masks were offered to TSA because FEMA already has a acquired a large amount of new masks which will be distributed this week.
At a press briefing on Wednesday, President Trump said 9.4 million N95 respirators and 20 million surgical masks have been shipped by the federal government.
— Shakthi Vadakkepat (@v_shakthi) March 25, 2020
SCOOP — CBP has 1.5 million expired N95 masks sitting in an Indiana warehouse that it plans to give to TSA, not hospitals or FEMA. The CDC issued guidelines nearly 4 weeks ago for the safe use of past-date masks, saying they remain effective https://t.co/ULtDDh08Ta
— Nick Miroff (@NickMiroff) March 26, 2020
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