The Head of FEMA Won’t Say How Many Masks Are Being Shipped to Hospitals

“We have…I am well aware of the high demand for these items.”

Pete Gaynor, FEMA Administrator gives remarks on the Coronavirus crisis in the Brady Press Briefing Room in the White House on Saturday.Stefani Reynolds/CNP via ZUMA Wire

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On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the department of Health and Human Services had placed orders through the Federal Emergency Management Agency for hundreds of millions N95 masks that would be distributed to “to health care providers across the country.”

But on Sunday morning, first on ABC’s “This Week” by Mathra Raddatz then on CNN’s “State of the Union” by  Jake Tapper, the head of FEMA dodged questions about exactly how many masks are available, and how long they’ll take to get to hospitals. 

“It is a dynamic and fluid operation,Gaynor told Tapper. “The president appointed FEMA five days ago to manage federal operations, and since I’ve been here, we’ve been shipping continuously from federal warehouses, and again, connecting, you know, those governors that need supplies to those who have it in the commercial sector.”

“It makes people concerned that there aren’t masks going out the door,” Tapper responded, asking for even a rough number, which Gaynor didn’t give. “I’m not saying that that’s the case, but without a number, that doesn’t fill people with confidence.”

Gaynor similarly did not respond directly to Raddatz when she asked about how masks were available in a stockpile maintained by the federal government and when that stockpile was to go out to the states. 

“We are shipping. All those supplies, to all the demands, all the asks, all the governance, every day, we are—we’re prepared to go to zero in the stockpile to meet demand,”  Gaynor said on the show.

“You’ve still got some in the stockpile, I wonder why that stockpile hasn’t been depleted? Have you seen the urgent pleas from healthcare workers?” Raddatz pressed. 

“We have…I am well aware of the high demand for these items,” Gaynor responded.

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