BROCKTON, Mass. – The police department in Brockton, Massachusetts, sent out a memo warning all of its officers about Chinese-made KN95 masks. They say the masks aren’t really protecting them against this deadly virus.
Brockton is one of the cities in Massachusetts with the highest COVID-19 infection rates, next to Chelsea. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency provided the city’s first responders with KN85 masks that were shipped from China.
Brockton Police Chief Emanuel Gomes spoke with WFXT through a Zoom call on Monday.
“Come to find out they weren’t as advertised,” said Gomes. “They were rated to be in the 90th percentile.”
An email update sent to officers said that tests conducted by MIT researchers determined that “They should have a filtration efficiency of 95%, but they tested at 28.1.”
“It puts the officers in a bad light, in a bad predicament,” said Gomes. “They can’t rely upon it.”
Officers aren’t the only ones who can’t rely on these masks.
“There is a fear, nervousness with us firefighters,” said Richard MacKinnon Jr, the Union President for firefighters in Massachusetts.
At least 12,000 firefighters across the state also have KN95 masks made in China.
“[There are] people that should’ve been transported earlier, but because of the fear of the hospitals, people’s health is declining,” said MacKinnon.
MacKinnon says because of the hospital fears, firefighters are now dealing with even more COVID-19 patients.
“We are seeing patients with respiratory distress, which puts our firefighters in harm’s way,” said MacKinnon.
While it raises concerns for first responders, the same KN95 masks were handed out by the Massachusetts Nurses Association two weeks ago.
The KN95 masks are FDA approved. They are still being used for first responders, but recommended as a backup by officials.
WFXT has reached out to MIT officials for comment but had not heard back as of Monday afternoon.