Lehigh County officials say they are struggling to secure more medical masks

Written by on April 7, 2020

Lehigh County officials say they are struggling to secure more medical masks

By Tyler Pratt

April 7, 2020

The Lehigh Valley is in the same situation as much of the country in scrambling to find medical-grade masks. Officials from across Lehigh County recently discussed efforts to get more masks for healthcare workers. And as WLVR’s Tyler Pratt reports, the search isn’t always panning out. 

During a virtual town hall on Monday, County Executive Phil Armstrong said there has been some success finding masks. He praised Lehigh Career & Technical Institute.

“They have come through for 9,000 masks that we were able to distribute to the people of Lehigh and emergency responders,” said Armstrong.

But Armstrong says there have also been some problems, too.

“Some of the masks obtained from PEMA have been in warehouses so long when we put them around our ears the elastic just fell apart.”

Armstrong says the county is working with St. Luke’s Hospital to create a sterilization process to reuse masks. And he says officials are tipping each other off when they hear of new supplies. Like when a state rep reached out with a source for 20,000 masks last week.

“Within three minutes of her phone call we had those ordered,” said Armstrong. 

But WLVR News followed up with the Lehigh County’s General Services Office, which said that order, like others they tried, fell through. The department’s director even says some leads have been scams. All this meaning, the supply is short. And the prices have gone up—where masks used to be one dollar a mask, now they can be as much as five dollars each.

The department says Lehigh County currently has orders out for 35,000 masks, but they haven’t arrived. 


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