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Washington Hospitals Fall Victims To Counterfeit Mask Scam

Doug Nadvornick/SPR

The head of the Washington State Hospital Association says retailers have removed about two million counterfeit N-95 masks from store shelves in the state after learning they don’t meet quality standards.

Cassie Sauer says her organization and 40 hospitals in Washington had purchased the 3-M brand masks to supplement their supplies.

“It’s rather horrifying to have bought these masks. They were about $4 apiece, so the hospital association spent $1.4 million on them, about $8 million totally from across the state," she said.

Sauer says her organization has been working with 3-M and the Department of Homeland Security to find the masks and keep them from getting to the public. She says samples of the masks have been sent off for testing.

“They have been found so far to be good masks, which is interesting," she said. "Both the UW and MultiCare have sent the masks out for testing and will be getting those responses back this week. What we understand from Homeland Security is they plan to confiscate them even if they are safe and effective masks.”

Sauer says 3-M will send a million masks to her agency over the next few weeks so they can be available for hospitals that need them.