Homeland Security said Wednesday it will begin halting export shipments of N95 respirators, surgical masks, gloves and other key medical equipment that would otherwise have gone to other countries.
Customs and Border Protection said it will detain any shipments at the ports and give the Federal Emergency Management Agency a chance to OK or reject the export, based on U.S. needs amid the coronavirus crisis.
Depending on what FEMA decides, the government may order the shipment be returned to the U.S., decide to purchase it outright, or allow it to be exported.
“FEMA and CBP are working together to prevent domestic brokers, distributors, and other intermediaries from diverting these critical medical resources overseas,” CBP said in a statement.
The agencies said they are operating under President Trump’s decision Friday to trigger the Defense Production Act to keep key medical equipment here.
Mr. Trump has been deeply critical of companies with operations in the U.S. that still do business with other countries and have earmarked shipments elsewhere, even as they’re still supplying the U.S.
The president says they must prioritize American needs.