Gov’s Office: ‘No Comment’ On County Mask Confiscation By Feds

It took 10 days to come to the decision, but the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy won’t comment on the apparent federal confiscation of 35,000 N-95 and surgical masks ordered by Somerset County.

Answering a question first asked on April 3, when the confiscation of the masks was first disclosed, Murphy spokeswoman Alexandra Altman said on April 13 that “we will not be commenting for now, but I will be in touch if there are any updates.”

The mask confiscation was disclosed by Somerset County Freeholder Director Shanel Robinson on April 3, the day the masks were to be delivered.

Robinson said the vendor from whom the County was to purchase the masks said they were taken by a government agency, but did not identify that agency.

Various national press reports have identified the Federal Emergency Management Agency as the government arm diverting the shipments of PPE and ventilators ordered by state governments and hospitals. FEMA has denied doing so.

At first, it was thought that the government had taken only the N-95 masks. But later in the day, Robinson has said, the County’s Office of Emergency Management purchasing department was notified by the mask vendor that the entire order was taken.

The masks were earmarked for area hospitals, municipal first responders and the Somerset-Hunterdon county drive-through test site, slated to open at Raritan Valley Community College on April 16.

FEMA has not yet responded to a request for comment.

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