Maryland Cancels Big Coronavirus-Mask Order

The state says it has notified the attorney general about a high-profile broker

With medical workers facing shortages and the CDC recommending the voluntary use of face coverings, many are wondering when they can get access to N95 masks. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib explains. Photo: SARA ESHLEMAN/GETTY IMAGES

The state of Maryland has canceled a large order of coronavirus supplies from a politically connected company and asked state law-enforcement officials to investigate the matter, Maryland officials said.

香蕉视频苹果下载Procurement officials with the state said they took action after waiting for more than 30 days for $12.5 million worth of masks and ventilators the state ordered from Blue Flame Medical LLC, a company launched a few weeks ago by a one-time fundraiser for the Republican party.

The former fundraiser, Mike Gula, sent a letter to Maryland officials showing that the state’s order for roughly 1.5 million N95 masks was seized by government officials in China, where they were manufactured, according to a copy reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. Mr. Gula switched to a new supplier and plans to deliver the masks shortly, along with a separate $4 million order for more than 100 ventilators to the state, according to a Blue Flame Medical official.

“We have determined that since it has been one month since the order was placed with no confirmation of shipment, we are in the process of cancelling the order and have referred this matter to the Attorney General,” according to a spokesman for the Maryland Department of General Services. A spokeswoman for the Maryland Attorney General confirmed that it received the referral.

The back-and-forth is a reflection of the chaotic and unregulated marketplace that has emerged as states, hospitals and first responders scramble to buy face masks, gloves, gowns and other protective medical supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic. A far-flung group of players have sought to connect buyers with manufacturers, many of which are in China.

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