As part of its effort to curb the impact of COVID-19, the federal government shipped more than 700,000 surgical masks to the state of Michigan last week from its stockpile. Michigan Medicine received 22,000 of those masks, but they are defunct, the Detroit Free Press reported on Tuesday. 

Michigan Medicine spokeswoman Mary Masson told The Daily in an email that 2,000 of these masks were initially distributed to employees, but they, along with the remaining 20,000, were quickly removed from inventory after discovering they were less durable. She noted Michigan Medicine has enough masks without them. 

“Michigan Medicine distributed about 2,000 of 22,000 ear loop masks we received from the strategic national stockpile last week,” Masson said. “We found them to be less durable and so have removed as many as possible from inventory and are not distributing the rest. We currently have an adequate supply of face masks so we were able to provide others to our staff.”

This comes after Michigan Medicine nurses have expressed their frustration about the lack of personal protective equipment and the fact they are not allowed to bring their own personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, to work. 

Michigan reported 27,001 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on April 14, with 772 of those in Washtenaw County. 

As of April 7, more than 100 Michigan Medicine employees have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. 

Michigan, however, is not the only state to receive unusable equipment from the federal stockpile. Alabama received 6,000 masks with dry rot and 150 of the ventilators sent to California were broken.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer engaged in a public conversation with President Donald Trump from late March to early April where the two exchanged criticisms of their respective handling of the pandemic. Whitmer asked for supplies from the federal government, including protective equipment and testing kits. Out of the 25,000 ventilators requested by Whitmer, she received 400 from the federal stockpile, as of April 7. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends people wash their hands often and avoid touching their faces. Anyone who believes they have been exposed to COVID-19 should call their primary care physician or reach out to the local health department, which in Washtenaw County can be reached at 734-544-6700.

Daily News Editor Emma Stein can be reached at

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