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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

CBP Warns: Don't Get Duped By Fake COVID-19 Products

fake covid products
Courtesy of CBP
"Shut Out" claims to protect you from COVID if you wear it. That's not true, according to U.S. EPA. In fact, it could hurt you because it contains dangerous levels of pesticides.

As if the virus itself isn't enough to worry about, you might fall victim to fake COVID products. DHL at CVG is one gateway Customs and Border Protection (CBP) says they're coming into the U.S.

Every night CBP scans, x-rays and visually checks suspicious looking products that might not meet FDA and EPA standards and would be otherwise illegal. A big part of their haul is synthetic drugs. Now smugglers are using the pandemic to make a quick buck and play on people's fears.

"As of June 22, CBP has seized more than 115,000 FDA prohibited COVID-19 test kits, more than 1 million counterfeit face masks, more than 3,000 EPA prohibited anti-virus lanyards and also nearly 20,000 problematic chloroquine tablets which also includes hydroxychloroquine," says CBP's Steven Bansbach as he gives the national numbers.

Credit Courtesy of CBP
This counterfeit product was seized at CVG in May.

Bansbach says everyone is looking for a quick fix and there isn't one for  the virus. He advises getting any medicine from your doctor and when looking for PPE, buy from reputable companies - not the first thing that pops up on a Google search.

In some cases the products might be legitimate, but the proper paperwork isn't in place, as was with masks confiscated at CVG this spring.

Ann Thompson has years of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting. She has reported for WKRC, WCKY, WHIO-TV, Metro Networks and CBS/ABC Radio. Her work has been recognized by the Associated Press and the Society of Professional Journalists. In 2019 and 2011 A-P named her “Best Reporter” for large market radio in Ohio. She has won awards from the Association of Women in Communications and the Alliance for Women in Media. Ann reports regularly on science and technology in Focus on Technology