Rushing to stave off a shortage of medical-grade protective gear to combat the spread of the coronavirus, Minnesota officials leaned on a local company’s global connections to airlift a cache of N95 masks from a Chinese factory back to the state for delivery this week.

Washington state purchased 750,000 cotton swabs for coronavirus tests, taking a risk because the product located by officials has not yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The state is also betting that a Seattle-based outdoor gear company, known for its backpacks and parkas, can reconfigure its operations to produce N95 respirators.

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