CNN’s Jake Tapper Grills FEMA Head on the Number of Face Masks Being Produced and Shipped out

Federal Emergency Management Agency chief Peter Gaynor can’t give an estimate on how many face masks the federal government is sending to states to help medical workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak.

During an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, host Jake Tapper asked Gaynor if he could say how masks “the government has been able to acquire and how many have gone hospitals.”

“It is a dynamic and fluid operation,” Gaynor said, adding, “We’ve been shipping continuously from federal warehouses and connecting those governors that need supplies to those who have it the commercial sector.”

When pressed on whether Gaynor had a “rough number,” Gaynor said, “I can’t give a rough number. I can tell you that it’s happening every day.”

That answer didn’t satisfy Tapper, who countered, “You understand though, of course, that the inability of the federal government to give a number in terms of masks alarms people. It makes people concerned there aren’t masks going out the door.”

“I’m not saying that that’s the case, but without a number, it doesn’t fill people with confidence,” he added. 

Watch the exchange below:

In a separate interview on ABC News’ “This Week” on Sunday, Gaynor was asked how many masks have been shipped and when states could expect them to be delivered.

“They have been distributed,” Gaynor said, adding, “They’re shipping today, they’ll ship tomorrow.”

Gaynor was unable to answer directly whether the masks would make it to health care workers before the healthcare system is overwhelmed by coronavirus cases. 

The shortage of face masks has become an urgent issue as healthcare workers in some states have been told to wear bandanas as a “last resort” if they run out of face masks. 

Published in IJR