n95 masks

By Robert Gearty | Fox News

A failed deal in California for millions of N95 masks has drawn the attention of a federal task force investigating coronavirus-related fraud, according to a report.

The health-care provider Kaiser Permanente says it is cooperating with the probe.

The deal fell through after a California health care workers’ union announced last month that it had found a supplier with 39 million N95 masks, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Service Employees International Union – United Healthcare Workers West went looking for the masks amid a growing shortage at hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

Kaiser spokesman Marc Brown told the Times Kaiser had growing questions about the supplier and backed out of an agreement to purchase 6 million of the masks.

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“We learned shortly afterward that the supplier never had possession of the masks,” Brown said, according to the paper. “We are cooperating with federal law enforcement in their investigation of suspected fraud in this case.”

There was no indication SEIU was a target of the investigation, and the exact reasons why the masks didn’t come through remain unclear, the Times reported.

But the aborted arrangement marks the latest in a smoke-and-mirrors marketplace for equipment in short supply due to the onslaught of COVID-19 patients.

SEIU spokesman Steve Trossman told the Times the union “was trying to save the lives of healthcare workers and patients” and that union officials “were proud of having made that attempt.”

He said the name of the supplier had been turned over to a federal task force investigating suppliers of medical equipment related to COVID-19.

He declined to provide the supplier’s name to The Times.

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