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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 2 hours ago - Technology

Instagram's boss faces Congress' questions on harm to teens

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED

The head of Instagram will find himself in Congress' crosshairs for the first time Wednesday in the one area lawmakers have shown they are willing to pass tech regulations — protecting youngsters online.

Why it matters: Republicans and Democrats have found common ground in grilling tech companies on how their products harm children, especially after revelations in The Wall Street Journal about Instagram's potential harm to the mental health of teen girls.

Jan. 6 committee to start contempt proceedings against Meadows

Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

The Jan. 6 select committee plans to move forward with contempt proceedings against former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows for his refusal to comply with the panel's subpoena.

Why it matters: The committee has used the threat of contempt — and the associated financial and reputational costs — to try to ensure evasive witnesses sit for their depositions.