California Governor Gavin Newsom said the Golden State had managed to secure a monthly supply of 200 million N95 respiratory and surgical masks, opening up the possibility of helping other states struggling to secure protective supplies.
"We decided enough is enough. Let's use the power, the purchasing power of the state of California, as a nation-state," he told Rachel Maddow Tuesday night. "We did just that. And in the next few weeks, we're going to see supplies, at that level, into the state of California and potentially the opportunity to export some of those supplies to states in need."
Instead of competing for supplies against states, the federal government, or other nations, the fifth largest economy in the world decided to secure a supply of masks itself, he explained.
"We're not waiting around any longer and we're no longer interested in the progress that we were seeing in the past," the governor said. "We're not looking at competing against others. We're not looking at gouging, the fraud, and the abuse in this space, competing against other states."
Newsom said the state had inked deals with "a consortium of nonprofits" and a California manufacturer to supply the protective equipment and open the door to help other states as well. He said the masks, most of which will be of the more effective N95 type, will be produced overseas.
Up until now, the state had distributed 41.4 million N95 masks across the state, one million of which were from the federal government. "That's not an indictment. That's not a cheap shot. At the end of the day, they don't have the masks at the national stockpile," Newsom said.
On the federal level, the administration is attempting to secure 600 million N95 masks for the nation, but the ramp-up could take months.