One Million N95 Masks Were “Hijacked” From Miami-Dade County, Says Director of Emergency Management

N95 mask

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By Giselle Balido

April 24, 2020

In the state’s epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, first responders face a dangerous shortage of personal protective equipment.

One million N95 masks needed to protect Miami-Dade county’s first responders and front-line workers from the spread of COVID-19 were “hijacked” last week by federal authorities, according to Frank Rollason, Miami-Dade’s director of Emergency Management.

“We were going to meet the plane and actually take them… But we got word from the company that they had been taken from the federal government,” Rollason told Miami’s WLRN television station.

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According to a statement issued by the Miami-Dade Fire and Rescue Department ( (MDFR) and the Emergency Management, and published in The Miami Herald, the medical grade N95 masks “were in the process of being secured when the vendor notified MDFR that the product was no longer available. MDFR was notified by the vendor that they will be attempting to secure another allocation from another one of their 3M partners. According to the vendor, the Federal Government was looking at securing a million masks as well, possibly affecting the order that was on its way to Miami-Dade County.”

Securing the N95 masks has been a top priority for South Florida’s Miami-Dade county, the state’s epicenter for coronavirus, and ranked 15th in the country with the most number of cases and deaths across Florida due to COVID-19. The county’s transit union is suing to provide bus drivers N95 masks. Postal workers have also complained that they are not issued adequate or sufficient masks, gloves, and sanitizing supplies to perform their jobs safely.

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And while Miami-Dade county goes without the precious protective cargo that Rollason called “like gold,” the mystery of the missing masks deepened. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said in its own statement that it is “not seizing or taking personal protective equipment from state or local governments, hospitals or any other entities,” a recurring complaint that has been echoed by other states since the outbreak of the pandemic.

Instead, FEMA claimed contacts at Miami-Dade Fire Department said the shipment of masks “was never sent to them by the vendor.”



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