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The boxes of counterfeit N95 masks seized by Customs and Border Protection officers in Chicago. Photo: Customs and Border Protection.

Customs and Border Protection officers have seized 500,000 counterfeit N95 masks at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, in a shipment bound for a firm in Manalapan, New Jersey, from Schenzhen, China, the agency announced Monday.

Why it matters: Health officials say they're facing shortages of N95 masks used to prevent COVID-19's spread, per a September AP/Frontline/Global Reporting Centre report. The CDC tested 30 of the masks seized on Sept. 10 and found 10% of the respirators had a filter efficiency rating below 95%. The "faulty" face coverings risked "jeopardizing the health and well-being of everyone," said Shane Campbell, port director for the Chicago area, in a statement.

Go deeper

Sep 18, 2020 - Politics & Policy

What might have been: Massive USPS coronavirus face mask operation called off

In April, the Postal Service "drafted a news release announcing plans to distribute 650 million masks nationwide, enough to offer five face coverings to every American household," the Washington Post reports, based on documents obtained by American Oversight, a watchdog group that requested them under FOIA.

  • What's happening: The idea originated at HHS, "which suggested a pack of five reusable masks be sent to every residential address in the country, with the first shipments going to the hardest-hit areas," per The Post.

Why it matters: Imagine if five months ago, Americans not only got a signal from their government that they should wear masks, but even had them handed to them. Incalculable loss — human and economic — could have been avoided.

Updated 6 mins ago - Sports

Ex-USA Gymnastics coach dies by suicide after being charged with human trafficking

John Geddert. Photo: AFP via Getty Images

The body of John Geddert was found on Thursday, just hours after the former USA Gymnastics coach was charged with 24 counts of criminal misconduct, according to Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel.

What they're saying: “My office has been notified that the body of John Geddert was found late this afternoon after taking his own life. This is a tragic end to a tragic story for everyone involved," Nessel said in a statement.

House passes Equality Act to boost LGBTQ protections

A protester holds a rainbow flag in Times Square in Oct. 2020. Photo: John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The House voted 224-206 on Thursday to pass the Equality Act, which would expand federal protections for LGBTQ people by prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.

Why it matters: The legislation passed in the House in May 2019, but never reached the Republican-controlled Senate under former President Trump. Democratic leaders believe there is a chance to pass the act into law this year with a 50-50 split in the Senate, but it is uncertain whether enough Republicans will support the bill for it to move forward.