US investigating millions of counterfeit N95 masks sent to hospitals

U.S. authorities said Feb. 10 that they are investigating the source of millions of counterfeit N95 masks that have been sent to hospitals, medical institutions and government agencies in at least five states, The New York Times reported. 

Many of the fraudulent masks had a 3M logo and were shipped in boxes labeled "Made in the U.S.A." Homeland Security Investigations said the masks are dangerous because they may not offer the same level of protection against the coronavirus as real N95 masks, the Times reported. 

Roughly 2 million fake N95 masks were purchased by hospitals in Washington state, Cassie Sauer, president and CEO of the Washington State Hospital Association, told the Times. The association reported Feb. 8 that counterfeit masks were sent to dozens of hospitals across the state. 

The masks were "really good fakes," Ms. Sauer told the Times, saying that they included a 3M logo, secure straps, a metal bar across the top and a foam strip across the nose.

Some healthcare workers in Washington used the counterfeit masks before they were aware they were fake. Multicare, a health system based in Tacoma, Wash., recommended its staff members who treated COVID-19 patients be tested for the virus because the counterfeit masks may not have effectively protected them, the Times reported.  

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