With supplies such as medical masks running low amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency (CBP) will be sending the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) a large stockpile of expired N95 respirator masks. TSA will distribute the masks to airports as needed.
The Department of Homeland Security confirmed to The Washington Post the decision to send out 1.5 million masks. It is currently unknown how many masks will be sent to the TSA or when they will be shipped.
It is not typically advised by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use N95 respirator masks that have expired. However, the large demand for masks by airport and medical workers, along with the general public, have made the need necessary. With the proper storage, the CDC has found that “many models have continued to perform in accordance with NIOSH performance standards.”
According to Fox News, TSA has allowed employees to wear protection in order to lower the risk of contracting the virus. This includes eye protection, N95 respirator masks, surgical masks and nitrile gloves. The use of surgical masks and nitrile gloves have been mandatory since the beginning of the pandemic.
“TSA will continue to follow guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration regarding workforce protection,” TSA said in a statement. “We are working closely with the CDC and will follow any additional guidance that is issued.”
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