As U.S. discouraged mask use, WH secured face coverings from Taiwan for senior staff

The outreach resulted in a donation of hundreds of thousands of surgical masks from Taiwan, which had plentiful domestic production and had sharply curtailed the spread of the coronavirus on the island.

While the bulk of Taiwan’s goodwill shipment went to the Strategic National Stockpile, 3,600 were set aside for White House staff and officials, administration officials said.

“While the administration had detailed pandemic response plans, somehow those did not include maintaining a supply of masks for White House personnel,” said an administration official who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe internal discussions. “That was a lesson learned. We did look at buying some, but couldn’t find available supply.”

A White House spokesman disputed the notion that the complex did not have a sufficient supply of masks, but declined to say how many were on hand or why the NSC turned to a foreign government for a donation.