Dan Harris, a lawyer in Seattle who is helping hospitals verify mask sellers in China, said he has reviewed the same “proof of verification” certificate more than a dozen times, indicating it is fake or copied.
“They are either hucksters or con artists,” Mr. Harris said. “Normal safeguards are being ignored right now.”
Some deep-pocketed individuals and corporations with supply-chain expertise have helped local officials navigate this murky global marketplace. The Kraft family, owners of the New England Patriots, sent the team’s plane to China to pick up more than one million N95 masks for hospitals in New York and Boston. McDonald’s Corp. said it would give one million N95 masks to health-care officials in Chicago and Illinois. The Chicago-based company said it got the masks from a supplier in China while looking for nonmedical grade masks to protect restaurant workers.
Absent such largess, many state and city officials say they are on their own. Greg Holcomb, director of public-safety support for Lake County, Fla., said only one of several types of masks county officials have purchased from Chinese manufacturers passed its quality tests. He said health workers would use the flawed masks should less-sophisticated surgical masks run low.