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Coronavirus: Puerto Rico needs medical supplies but faces restrictions

"They are treating people differently at a time when we all need to get essential items like masks, gloves and health items," said Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's nonvoting member of Congress.
Image: Puerto Rico
A traveler wearing a mask waits in line at a security checkpoint at the Luis Munoz Marin International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico on March 18, 2020.Ricardo Arduengo / AFP - Getty Images

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By Nicole Acevedo

States seeking to buy medical supplies needed for the coronavirus pandemic will be able to buy abroad despite usual restrictions under the federal Buy American Act, according to a FEMA announcement Saturday.

But Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., are at least temporarily not being given that dispensation.

The law requires that agencies prioritize purchase of U.S.-made products.

FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor said at a White House press briefing that states can break that rule but added this

茄枝视频Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez, Puerto Rico's nonvoting member of Congress, told NBC News that she reached out to the Federal Emergency Management Agency immediately after the press conference.

茄枝视频"Believe me, this is going to change because it's not just Puerto Rico, it's Washington, D.C., too. They are treating people differently at a time when we all need to get essential items like masks, gloves and health items," Gonzalez said in Spanish.

茄枝视频She said FEMA told her that attorneys are now working to make changes "and give people the ability to buy the supplies they need, like everyone else."

The total number of coronavirus cases in Puerto Rico is 21, , the Puerto Rican Health Department said.

茄枝视频The 68-year-old woman was on board the Costa Luminosa cruise when she arrived in Puerto Rico earlier this month. She had been experiencing symptoms when the cruise ship docked in the city of San Juan and was taken to a hospital to receive treatment.

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