Counterfeit masks reaching frontline health workers in US

Coronavirus

An opened box of protective masks sits on a pallet at Direct Relief’s distribution center in Santa Barbara, Calif., on Wednesday, April 1, 2020. An Associated Press investigation has found millions of medical masks, gloves, gowns and other supplies being used in hospitals across the country are counterfeits, putting lives at risk. (Jonathan Ingalls/FRONTLINE/PBS/GRC via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Counterfeit face masks that provide inadequate COVID-19 protection have been distributed to frontline health care workers across the country

An Associated Press investigation has tracked the masks to a U.S.-certified factory in China where legitimate medical masks are made.

Adding to the confusion, millions of masks now considered inadequate for medical protection entered the U.S. and are now in use because of the federal government’s relaxed standards. Meanwhile state and local governments, hospitals, private caregivers and well wishers have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on the flawed masks.

Before the pandemic, N95 masks sold for about 60 cents each. Today they’re priced as high as $6 apiece.

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