August 2020

Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Navajo medical masks were part of White House contracting scam and may not work

A worker checks a medical N95 mask at a mask factory in southwest China's Chongqing, Feb 17, 2020. (WANG QUANCHAO/XINHUA)

By Brenda Norrell

Censored News

Medical masks sent to the Navajo Nation were part of a White House contract scam. The masks were secured by a former White House aide who obtained a contract with the Indian Health Service and purchased those from China, ProPublica reports.

"A former White House aide won a $3 million federal contract to supply respirator masks to Navajo Nation hospitals in New Mexico and Arizona 11 days after he created a company to sell personal protective equipment in response to the coronavirus pandemic," ProPublica reported on Friday.

The masks provided were Chinese-made KN95s, the Chinese alternative to N95s.

U.S. regulators said the first week of April that these offer inadequate protection.

On Friday, the Navajo Nation reported a total of 4,529 cases of coronavirus. There have been 149 deaths.