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story.lead_photo.caption Missouri Department of Public Safety Director Sandra Karsten speaks Tuesday, April 14, 2020, during a COVID-19 news briefing as Gov. Mike Parson looks on. Photo by Submitted photo
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Missouri is scheduled to receive a shipment of masks numbering more than enough to replace masks that were recalled for not meeting standards of quality, the leader of the state's public safety department said Tuesday.

Over the weekend, testing by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services showed some of 48,000 KN95 masks that had been sent out to law enforcement and fire services earlier this month did not meet the state's standards for personal protective equipment.

That led to a recall of the KN-95 masks — which had been received by Mid-Missouri first responders, among others.

Jefferson City and Cole County authorities said Monday none of the recalled masks had been used by members of their departments.

Sandra Karsten, director of the Missouri Department of Public Safety, said Tuesday the recalled masks had come in two shipments, and had been manufactured at three different factories in China.

Karsten said Monday that PPE vendors have been receiving specifications of what the state is looking for in its PPE orders, references are checked, and if samples of the product to be produced are not available, the state's been asking for photographs.

She said the state would be reviewing its procurement of PPE, and the state's attorney general's office would be invited to assist.

Karsten said Tuesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency told her a shipment of N95 masks — manufactured in the United States by 3M — was being shipped to Missouri.

The first shipment of 200,000 N95 respirator masks was scheduled to arrive at the state's warehouse later Tuesday night, Karsten said, adding the new masks would be made available to first responders, including law enforcement, "as soon as we can get them out."

"PPE is one of the most difficult issues we're facing now," and it's been that way from the start, Karsten said.

She said N95 masks are the single item with the most demand.

"Missouri and everyone else are seeking out these masks. There's too little product and too much demand. The supply chains have broken down. There have been quality issues, and there've been cases of fraud and counterfeit products in other states.

"All these things mean that supplies will be short, but I promise that we will continue to pursue and acquire as much reliable PPE as we can get, and we will continue to distribute it equitably," Karsten said.

Gov. Mike Parson said Friday, "If there's one thing that I've learned as governor of this state, that I assure you I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it never happens again in these crises, never again will I be dependent totally on foreign countries or companies outside the state of Missouri.

"We've got too many opportunities in this state, too many good people, and next time, we're going to be prepared with our own state companies to take care of Missourians, and not be dependent on other states and on other countries to meet our needs. It is one thing for sure that I believe we will get done, and we'll be more prepared the next time this comes."

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