KEY POINTS

  • California will get $247M in refunds from a delay in a face mask deal
  • Gov. Newsom announced a $1B deal for protective equipment with a Chinese supplier in April
  • Nearly 59,000 people in California are confirmed cases of COVID-19, with nearly 2,500 deaths

California announced that the state will be refunded $247 million it paid to a Chinese manufacturer after it failed to get a federal certification for the protective masks by a deadline, Wednesday (May 6).

Governor Gavin Newsom announced a $1 billion contract with the company based in China for 200 million protective masks per month as part of the state’s efforts to fight COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The company was unable to meet an April 30 deadline to have the incoming supply of N95 masks certified by the National Institutes for Occupational Safety and Health. State officials did not specify the cause for the delay in meeting certification requirements.

Millions of surgical masks from the company had already been delivered to California, and the respirator masks were already set to arrive in May.

Under the contract, California paid 55 cents for every surgical mask and $3.30 for every N95 respirator mask. The state had already made a separate payment of $104.7 million for the surgical masks to be delivered this month.

The state paid $247 million to the company upfront in April for the delivery of the respirator masks before they were even delivered in an unusual move.

An amendment to the contract was signed Wednesday to extend the certification deadline to May 31, after which California will get the remainder of what it paid by June.

The deal with China-based BYD was announced in April to answer California’s reported lack of personal protective equipment as the state fights the coronavirus pandemic.

State officials had previously denied requests for public records about the deal to the Los Angeles Times and the Associated Press.

Newsom later relented on Wednesday and said he wanted to be “as transparent as possible” with the public to let them know how much the state had paid to get much needed supplies of protective gear.

California is one of the states worst hit by COVID-19 in the U.S. State figures show that 58,815 confirmed positive cases have been recorded in the state with 2,412 fatalities as of May 5. More than half of the cases in California involve patients under the age of 50, with nearly 2000 cases in children and teens up to 17 years old.