Target Apologizes After Selling Short-in-Supply N95 Face Masks in Seattle Stores

Target Corp. apologized Saturday after N95 masks — which are in short supply at hospitals across the country — were made available for purchase at some Seattle units.

According to Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, members of his staff intervened Saturday after learning that masks were being sold on Target shelves. Inslee said that “those masks are now on their way to the health-care workers who desperately need them.”

Target said it was removing all masks from shelves and donating them to the Washington State Department of Health. The Minneapolis-based retailer added that it would also review its inventory for additional masks to donate.

“Target’s commitment to communities is unwavering & we apologize,” the company wrote in a tweet.

The coronavirus crisis has caused an international shortage of N95 masks, with doctors and nurses having to, in some cases, reuse their masks against CDC guidelines. Some doctors and nurses in the U.S. have had to resort to using bandanas or scarves — a measure the CDC advises as a last resort. High-end fashion designer Christian Siriano has his sewing team making masks to address the shortage in New York. And in France, luxury conglomerate LVMH has ordered 40 million masks from China as it seeks to help end the coronavirus pandemic; the Louis Vuitton parent has also shifted its cosmetics operations to focus on manufacturing hand sanitizer, another item that is in short supply.

Internationally, more than 315,000 people have contracted the novel coronavirus and more than 13,400 have died, according to Johns Hopkins data. In the United States, confirmed coronavirus cases have risen to more than 26,700, with at least 323 fatalities.

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