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Employees work as they make real respiratory masks in a family-owned medical equipment factory. Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. government has seized approximately 10 million counterfeit N95 masks designed to mimic those produced by global manufacturer 3M, AP reports.

Why it matters: The fake masks do not have the same standard of protection as actual N95 masks, which are needed for healthcare workers and others on the front lines of caring for others during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Federal investigators have warned roughly 6,000 potential victims across 12 states, including hospitals and medical facilities, to stop using the fake masks.
  • The 10 million masks were seized over the past several weeks, per AP. Masks were seized in 5 different states over the past 2 weeks.

Go deeper

Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Testing and tracing "win" sees New Zealand city lockdown end despite COVID cases

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives at a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, New Zealand, on Wednesday. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Wednesday Auckland's snap lockdown will end at midnight.

Why it matters: Officials confirmed two new COVID-19 community cases Wednesday. Ardern told reporters test results show "we don't have a widespread outbreak, but rather a small chain of transmission," centering around an Auckland high school, "which is manageable."

Updated Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Winter storm causes "widespread delays" of COVID vaccine shipments

Chicago residents dig out their car after a snowstorm coupled with lake-effect snow dumped more than 17 inches of snow in some areas of the city. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

The winter storm sweeping across Texas and much of the U.S. has posed new obstacles to coronavirus vaccination efforts.

Driving the news: Hazardous weather has slowed deliveries from two central distribution hubs for the Southeast. The U.S. government is projecting "widespread delays" in vaccine shipments in the next few days, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) spokesperson told the Washington Post.

Feb 17, 2021 - Health

Biden and Fauci mark White House Snapchat return with pandemic message

A screenshot of President Biden's Snapchat video. Photo: White House

The White House marked a return to Snapchat with President Biden and his chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, appearing in public health video messages on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Details: In the White House Snapchat story, which appears on the "Discover" page of curated content, a masked Biden urges users to wear face coverings because "you're going to save lives."