Trump Administration Orders 167 Million Face Masks From 3M for Coronavirus Pandemic -- 3rd Update
By Alex Leary and Austen Hufford
President Trump said the government would buy nearly 167 million
masks from 3M Co. over the next three months, resolving a spat with
the industrial conglomerate over efforts to ramp up supply of gear
for front-line workers confronting the coronavirus pandemic.
Mr. Trump criticized 3M's mask-making efforts last week and
invoked the Defense Production Act against the company. That Korean
War-era law gives the president power to compel manufacturers to
make operational changes in the national interest. Health workers
across the country are running short on masks as well as the gowns,
ventilators and face shields they need to treat the sickest
patients with Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.
An official said Monday that the Trump administration didn't
plan to take any further action against 3M under the DPA in
addition to the mask purchases.
"The 3M saga ends very happily," Mr. Trump said at a briefing on
Monday evening. "We're very proud to be dealing now with 3M and its
CEO, Mike Roman. I just spoke with him and I thanked him for
getting it done."
Mr. Roman had pushed back against Mr. Trump's criticism last
week, telling The Wall Street Journal that his company was doing
everything possible to increase mask production.
"Given the reality that demand for respirators outpaces supply,
we are working around the clock to further expand our capacity,"
Mr. Roman said in a statement on Monday.
3M said it would import the masks it sells to the federal
government primarily from its factory in China. Earlier this year,
as the virus spread in China, officials there restricted exports of
medical goods. 3M said it was working with the Trump administration
to restart imports to the U.S.
3M has doubled its production of masks in recent months to about
100 million N95 masks globally each month, including 35 million in
the U.S. 3M said last week that it is raising production in the
U.S. to a monthly rate of 40 million within weeks and that it would
be making 50 million masks a month by June. 3M said it would
continue to export a small percentage of its U.S.-made masks to
Canada and Latin America.
Other manufacturers including Honeywell International Inc. are
also raising mask output in the U.S. The Department of Health and
Human Services estimated in March that the U.S. would need about
300 million N95 masks a month to confront a pandemic.
HHS last month placed orders for 600 million N95 masks from 3M,
Honeywell and three other companies to distribute to hospitals and
augment the national medical-supply stockpile over the next 18
The Trump administration's separate purchase on Monday for 166.5
million 3M face masks includes respirators that are approved under
the typical N95 standard -- so called because those masks block 95%
of very small particles -- as well as orders for products certified
under a similar standard used in China known as KN95. The Trump
administration official said the government will purchase 55.5
million masks from 3M in each of the next three months.
High-quality respirators are in high demand because they are
designed to keep health-care workers safe. Surgical masks and even
simpler cotton masks, intended to prevent the spread of disease
from wearers, are also in increasingly high demand in the U.S. as
officials have advised most people to wear some covering when they
go out in public.
Mr. Trump, who was initially reluctant to invoke the DPA, has
also invoked it to compel companies to work faster to make
ventilators. General Motors Co. and General Electric Co. are among
companies working to produce more ventilators in the U.S.
Write to Alex Leary at email@example.com and Austen Hufford at
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
April 06, 2020 20:20 ET (00:20 GMT)
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