Former Trump Aide Provides Faulty Masks After Winning $3M Federal Contract
Former Trump deputy chief of staff Zach Fuentes won a $3 million contract to supply respirator masks to the Navajo Nation just 11 days after founding a company to sell personal protective equipment, according to The Hill.
Fuentes denied to ProPublica that his White House connections helped him secure the contract. He said, “Nobody referred me from the White House. It was nothing like that.”
However, some are questioning if this is actually the case.
Fuentes previously had no federal contracting experience before winning the large contract with the Indian Health Service (IHS).
He is charging $3.24 per mask, which is more than the market rate before the pandemic but less than the prices under other federal contracts.
IHS told The Hill that pproximately 250,000 of the masks, worth $800,000, may be unsuitable for surgery.
Another 130,040 were not the correct type of mask as specified by the procurement data.
It has yet to be verified if all of Fuente’s masks were verified by the Food and Drug Administration as he claimed.
Providing faulty masks could have even more severe consequences in this case. The Navajo Nation, with a population of 173,000 has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Washington Post, studies have shown about 1 percent of New York’s population has been infected with coronavirus. However, with 4,434 cases in the Navajo Nation, their infection rate is over 2.5 percent. With an infection rate so high, faulty equipment could lead to more spread and by extension far more death in the small and vulnerable population.