Coronavirus: Washington governor diverts masks sold at Target stores to health care workers

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Saturday diverted masks being sold on shelves at local Target stores to state health care workers in dire need of safety equipment.

“We heard reports that a Target in Seattle was selling n95 masks,” Inslee wrote on Twitter. “My staff and others stepped in. Those masks are now on their way to the health care workers who desperately need them.”

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SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union provided a picture of the masks taken Saturday at the West Seattle Target store.

The issue caused a firestorm of angry posts on Twitter, KIRO-TV reported.

@FuseWA wrote: “Hey @Target why are you selling thousands of N95 masks when local hospitals are critically short? Doctors and nurses in Seattle are being told to reuse masks from previous shifts because they are so low on supplies. Shameful!”

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Target replied to the posts with the following statement:

“Today in select Seattle stores, N95 masks were available for purchase in error. We’re removing & donating them to the WA State Dept. of Health. We’re also reviewing inventory for additional masks to be donated. Target’s commitment to communities is unwavering & we apologize.”

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After Inslee and other local officials took action, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW union thanked them for getting the masks off store shelves and into the hands of health care workers.

“Nurses and healthcare workers are on the front lines of the COVID-19 epidemic, and they are running out of the personal protective equipment they need to safely take care of Washington residents. We are grateful for the swift action of Gov. Inslee, County Executive Constantine, and Mayor Durkan in ensuring Target will divert its supply of PPE to caregivers who need it. We hope other retailers will follow suit. Meanwhile, we have heard nothing from the White House on what it’s doing to ensure healthcare workers have the PPE they need,” SEIU Healthcare 1199NW," Jane Hopkins, RN, Executive Vice President of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW said in a statement Saturday.

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