President Donald Trump is criticizing 3M over N95 respirator masks as the company revealed demand is “much higher” than its ability to make them during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a tweet Thursday night, Trump said 3M “will have a big price to pay” over mask production.
“We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks,” Trump wrote. “‘P Act’ all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing.”
Earlier Thursday, the White House invoked the Defense Production Act to acquire more masks with N95 respirators from 3M.
In a statement posted Friday, 3M said the White House formally invoked the act to prioritize N95 orders from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The company also said it has gone “above and beyond” to make enough respirators available in the U.S.
“We look forward to working closely with the Administration to implement yesterday’s DPA order,” 3M said. “We will continue to maximize the amount of respirators we can produce on behalf of U.S. healthcare workers, as we have every single day since this crisis began.”
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Earlier this week, 3M CEO Mike Roman said it had doubled global output of N95 respirators in January, and additional investments and actions will allow them to double capacity again within the next 12 months. The N95 masks have proven more effective at protecting wearers from the spread of particles than standard masks.
“This is not just a 3M challenge; it’s an industry-wide challenge,” said Roman. “Even with 3M’s accelerated production combined with capacity from other manufacturers, the reality is that demand for N95 respirators is much higher than the industries’ ability to deliver.”
The St. Paul, Minnesota-headquartered global industrial, health care and consumer goods conglomerate said it’s also working with sterilization companies to find ways for hospitals to “safely clean, reuse and extend the life” of respirators.
Several companies have shifted efforts toward producing important items including ventilators and personal protective equipment to aid health care workers and first responders. Automakers including Ford and General Motors are creating ventilators, while companies including Gap Inc. are using factory resources to make gowns and masks.
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