Target Apologizes for Selling N95 Masks in Seattle

The company said the masks were offered for sale “in error” at some stores in Washington State, which has been a hot spot for the coronavirus pandemic.


By Johnny Diaz, The New York Times

March 22, 2020


The retailer Target apologized on Saturday after coming under criticism for selling N95 masks, which are in acute demand by medical providers during the coronavirus pandemic, at some stores in Washington State.


The masks were made available to the public for purchase “in error” in select stores in Seattle, the company said in a statement on Twitter. It said it was removing them and donating them to the Washington State Department of Health.


“We’re also reviewing inventory for additional masks to be donated,” the statement continued. “Target’s commitment to communities is unwavering & we apologize.’’


Target issued the apology after it was criticized for selling the masks, which are in short supply to health care workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Washington has been a leading state in deaths related to the virus.


In a tweet, a journalist featured a photo of the masks lining three shelves at a Seattle store.


“Tall stacks of N95 masks @Target in Seattle, despite a shortage at hospitals,’’ wrote the journalist, Ann Dornfeld, a public radio education reporter in Seattle.


Fuse Washington, a progressive organization, also called out the company on Twitter: “Why are you selling thousands of N95 masks when local hospitals are critically short?”


In Seattle, a union for health care workers, SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, on Saturday called the mask sales “unacceptable” and demanded that Target divert them to the medical system. After working with government leaders, the union said Target planned to get the supplies to medical workers.


“We hope other retailers will follow suit,” said Jane Hopkins, a nurse who is executive vice president of the union.


Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said his office took action after hearing of the reports of the masks...


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