Washington - The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) eased rules requiring Puerto Rico and three other jurisdictions to first look in U.S. states for personal protective equipment -- such as masks and gloves -- and medical supplies before ordering them from other countries.

This requirement was imposed as a condition to apply for reimbursements from FEMA.

According to a spokesman for FEMA, if the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, or the U.S. Virgin Islands determine that “they cannot purchase medical supplies and equipment through domestic sources due to unavailability or unreasonable prices, they may seek to obtain them from foreign sources without prior authorization from FEMA.”

According to the spokesman, because of the "extraordinary and unprecedented circumstances" of the emergency created by COVID-19, and the demand for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, "FEMA believes it would be appropriate" for Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands to be able to use the exception allowed by the Buy American Act.

Both Commissioner Jenniffer González and Governor Wanda Vazquez said they contacted FEMA Administrator Peter Gaynor seeking to ease this requirement.

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