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California adds $315 million to mask contract from China-based BYD, Gov. Newsom announces

Sacramento Bee logoSacramento Bee 7/23/2020 By Sophia Bollag, The Sacramento Bee

California is extending its agreement with China-based manufacturer BYD to buy hundreds of millions more masks to protect essential workers from the coronavirus, Gov. Gavin Newsom announced Wednesday.

The state will buy an additional 120 million N95 masks and 300 million surgical masks, Newsom said, adding to the hundreds of millions the state has already purchased and received from the company. The state will pay BYD $315 million: $255 million for the N95s and $60 million for the surgical masks, according to the new contract.

California will pay $2.13 per N95 mask, a decrease in price from the $3.30 the state paid BYD for the first batch of shipments.

California’s contracts with BYD have faced significant scrutiny from lawmakers and the public since Newsom first announced the deal in April on MSNBC. At the time, he said the state had agreed to buy 200 million masks per month, mostly N95s, which are thought to be the most effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19.

California paid nearly $500 million up front for the N95s, but did not receive any for months because BYD did not secure federal certification for them until June.

BYD twice failed to obtain federal certification for its N95 masks in time for deadlines laid out in its contract with California and had to refund half of California’s upfront payment because it missed the first deadline.

Despite the initial delays, Newsom said the deal with BYD and the state’s overall strategy for securing masks has “been a success.” So far, the state has received hundreds of millions of surgical and N95 masks from BYD.


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