FEMA Pushes Back on Reports it Diverted PPE

WASHINGTON (AP) -
Army National Guard Pfc. Michael Daggi of the California National Guard Medical Detachment instructs on properly applying personal protective equipment. (Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Eddie Siguenza)

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency is pushing back on reports it confiscated or diverted shipments of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor calls such reports “absurd.” The agency has been coordinating the emergency import of millions of surgical masks, respirators, and other protective equipment and distributing the gear around the country.

Gaynor says FEMA doesn’t have the legal authority to seize or divert PPE shipments.

He blamed the reports on vendors playing customers against each other to get the best price. The FEMA administrator says they will quote a price to a buyer and then claim FEMA seized the shipment after finding someone willing to pay a higher price for scarce materials.

Gaynor says in a conference call, “FEMA has become a convenient scapegoat for malicious actors who are unable to deliver on the promises they have made or are engaging in illegal activity.”