NPR reported last week that Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said his state’s order of millions of N95 masks was confiscated at a port in New York.
…George Gianforcaro, owner of the small, Newark, Delaware-based Indutex USA, said the Federal Emergency Management Agency did not pay him when it took possession of two imported shipments of masks bound for customers across the United States.
Those customers included Delaware nursing facilities, the state of Michigan and boat captains who steer foreign ships through U.S. bays.
…”Let’s not forget I paid $4 million for this product on March 18,” Gianforcaro said, referring to the million-mask order. “This is getting very, very expensive. I don’t have any money and I don’t have any product and there’s people that are asking for it.”
…While FEMA says it targets exporters, Gianforcaro’s customers for the N95 masks are domestic companies or governments, according to a list of purchase orders Gianforcaro shared with The Delaware News Journal, part of the USA TODAY Network.
…Gianforcaro shared a written order that he says FEMA sent to his company. The document directed Indutex to sell to the federal government “all filtering facepiece respirators, including the N95 respirators contained within shipment number 8994645378 that arrived at JFK Airport” on April 6.
…That early April shipment of 100,000 N95 masks was followed by the arrival April 19 of 300,000 additional ones, which also were seized, Gianforcaro said.
Citing Defense Production Act authority, the FEMA document further ordered Indutex to “set aside” all N95 or surgical masks it may come to possess during the federal emergency for a potential sale to FEMA.
[FEMA Administrator Peter] Gaynor’s signature is written along the bottom of the document.
…In the order to Gianforcaro, [FEMA] said the shipment of masks would be sent to the Strategic National Stockpile.
…Last month, Delaware requested 10 million masks and more than 100 million gloves for what it expected to be a months-long fight against the coronavirus. Days later, the federal government asked the state to pare back the request and submit what it would need for a two-week surge.
As of early April, Delaware had been granted less than 1% of what it initially requested, according to leaked federal documents.
…In discussions with FEMA officials, [Gianforcaro] said he proposed a solution in which he could deliver masks to health facilities in the United States as directed by FEMA, rather than federal officials carrying out the logistics themselves. FEMA did not appear to [to be interested in] the proposal, he said.