Counterfeit N-95 masks reaching frontline health workers in US


In this illustration dated February 26, 2020, protective N-95 face masks lie on a table at an office in Washington, DC. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH/AFP via Getty Images)

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 have 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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