Nearly 1.5 million N95 respirator masks, a medical product that is crucial in hospitals fight against the coronavirus, haven't been shipped because they are past their expiration date, according to The Washington Post.
The masks are reportedly part of Customs and Border Protection’s emergency stock. In a meeting Wednesday about what to do with the masks, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials decided to turn the masks over to the Transportation Security Administration, which has demanded masks of its own, according to the Post's sources.
The sources told the paper that CBP has no plans of giving the masks to hospitals or the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Manufacturers of the masks have said that the masks stay effective if stored properly and that the largest problem with older masks is that the elastic bands on the mask can weaken, which prevents a proper seal from being created against a user’s face.
But the CDC has released guidelines that outline how to safely use expired N95 masks.
CBP spokesman Nathan Peeters told the Post that Border Patrol agents and officers had been given a 30-day supply of protective equipment.
Health officials in hard-hit parts of the country like California and New York has repeatedly stressed to the federal government that their supplies of N95 masks have been exhausted.
On Wednesday, President TrumpDonald TrumpJan. 6 committee chair says panel will issue a 'good number' of additional subpoenas Overnight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Pentagon officials prepare for grilling Biden nominates head of Africa CDC to lead global AIDS response MORE said that FEMA was in the process of shipping 9.4 million N95 respirators and 20 million surgical masks to hospitals around the country.