Loudoun County says federal government canceled PPE order

Loudoun County Administrator Tim Hemstreet says the federal government recently preempted an order for personal protective equipment the county intended for frontline workers.

Loudoun Now first reported that Hemstreet named the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as having forced the supplier to cancel Loudoun's order and reroute it into the federal supply.

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Protective face masks

(Photo by MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

The county had ordered 30,000 N95 masks at a cost of $160,000 from a supplier in The Netherlands.

A county spokesman told FOX 5 the order was supposed to arrive on April 14, but was preempted on April 13. The masks would have been distributed to sheriff's deputies, firefighters and mental health and substance abuse workers.

The county's board of supervisors were briefed about the order at a meeting Tuesday night.

Vice Chairman Koran Saines called the canceled order disappointing.

"It is very disheartening to hear and there's just I think it's bad business and we all should be working together, not competing against each other for this vital equipment to our county employees and frontline employees that need it every day to got out and do their jobs still," Saines said.

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In a statement, FEMA denied taking medical supplies from any state or local government:

"FEMA is not seizing or taking personal protective equipment (PPE) from state or local governments, hospitals, or anyone lawfully engaged in acquiring or distributing PPE.  If a hospital believes this has happened to them, it should be reported to the governor. If a governor believes that this has happened to their supplies, it should be reported to the FEMA Region."

FEMA does have the authority to compel suppliers to sell supplies to te government if it suspects price gouging, but it is not clear if that happened in the case of the county's supplies.