MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Counterfeit masks sold to Washington hospitals may actually be effective

Mar 2, 2021, 11:24 AM

counterfeit masks...

3M brand N95 particulate respirators are displayed on a table on July 28, 2020 in San Anselmo, California. (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Millions of counterfeit N95 masks sold to Washington hospitals may actually be usable, despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Homeland security plans to remove them from service.

In early February, mask manufacturer 3M issued warnings to several hospitals in Washington that they may have received counterfeit masks. In total, Washington Hospital Association CEO Cassie Sauer believes up to 40% of the state’s hospitals inadvertently took in some quantity of the fake masks.

At this point, it’s unclear how they entered circulation, but what’s becoming more evident is that the counterfeits were surprisingly up to par.

Millions of potentially fake N95 masks pulled from local hospital shelves

“The best theories about where these masks came from are either someone working at a 3M factory stole the specs and went and built them someplace else, or they’re actual overruns from an actual 3M factory that someone is operating in an overnight shift,” Sauer said Monday.

Washington hospitals have only been able to identify the fakes based on lot numbers attached to shipments, given that the counterfeits are difficult to discern from 3M’s own stock.

Because of that, the masks themselves could be effective if used, even while Homeland Security is sweeping them up and taking them out of circulation entirely.

“It’s a sophisticated operation,” Sauer noted. “They’re good masks, but we do believe that Homeland Security is going to confiscate them all, even if they’re shown to be effective.”

Over 11 million total masks across five states have been seized nationwide as part of the scheme.

MyNorthwest News

Photo: Seattle detectives are looking for a vehicle involved in a deadly hit-and-run that happened ...

Julia Dallas

Seattle detectives looking for vehicle involved in deadly hit-and-run

Seattle detectives are looking for a vehicle involved in a deadly hit-and-run that happened in the Denny Triangle neighborhood Friday.

6 hours ago

Image:A portrait of Officer Vancouver Police Department officer Donald Sahota is displayed as he is...

Steve Coogan

Man convicted of murder in death of Vancouver police officer shot by deputy

A Yakima man was found guilty of murder for his role in the death of a Vancouver police officer who was shot by a sheriff's deputy in error.

7 hours ago

Image:A Sultan man has filed a lawsuit after two Snohomish County deputies shot him multiple times ...

Louie Tran, KIRO 7 News

Sultan man sues two Snohomish County deputies after they shot him, dog multiple times

Sultan man sues two Snohomish County deputies after they shot him, dog multiple times

7 hours ago

Image: Hundreds gather at Seattle's Wing Luke Museum to ring in the Lunar New Year in 2023....

Steve Coogan

Wing Luke Museum closes after employees walk out in protest of ‘Hate’ exhibit

About two dozen employees of Seattle's Wing Luke Museum staged a walkout Wednesday to protest an exhibit that was set to begin.

7 hours ago

Image: In this photo provided by Iditarod rookie musher Bridgett Watkins, a bull moose stands betwe...

Steve Coogan

A moose killed a man in Alaska. Could it happen in Washington?

A 70-year-old man who was attempting to take photos of two newborn moose calves was killed by their mother, authorities said.

10 hours ago

Image: Trooper Barry Marcus has been with the Washington State Patrol since 1992....

Steve Coogan

WSP trooper ‘saved untold lives, perhaps yours’ as he made 4,000th DUI arrest

Trooper Barry Marcus, a Spokane-based Washington State Patrol veteran, made the notable DUI arrest April 30, the agency reported Friday.

13 hours ago

Counterfeit masks sold to Washington hospitals may actually be effective