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FEMA Will Send 1 Million More Pieces Of Personal Protective Gear To Mass.

Massachusetts expects to receive 1 million more pieces of personal protective equipment from the federal government, Governor Charlie Baker said Wednesday.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency told the governor's office this morning about the shipment of gear, Baker said at his daily coronavirus press conference. The shipment will include 650,000 masks and 260,000 Tyvek protective suits, he said. Baker did not specify what type of masks the government was sending.

There’s an enormous demand for N95 respirator masks, and these remain in short supply at hospitals throughout the region. A recent delivery from China, arranged by the Kraft family, owners of the New England Patriots, turned out to include a large number of KN95 masks, considered to be of somewhat lower quality.

Baker said state officials are “in the process of inspecting and counting all this inventory, and MEMA will work quickly to distribute this much-needed gear to our frontline workers.”

Hospitals are taking various approaches to sterilization, but nurses’ unions have raised concerns about the safety of reusing masks.

Spokesmen for FEMA and the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency were not immediately available for comment.

Baker said state officials were in the process of inspecting and counting another batch of masks that the Krafts helped deliver last night.

“MEMA will work quickly to distribute this much-needed gear to our frontline workers,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Massachusetts State Police had tweeted that a motorcycle unit was escorting a Patriots tractor-trailer to JFK Airport in New York, to fetch another delivery of medical supplies.

State officials across the country have complained that orders of medical supplies have gone missing or been commandeered by the federal government. FEMA has denied “seizing or hoarding medical supplies.”

“Getting enough gear, not just here in Massachusetts, but across the country has been a challenge,” Baker said, “and will continue to be until supply chains adjust to the new normal.”

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Beth Healy Twitter Investigative Reporter
Beth Healy is an investigative reporter for WBUR.

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