/The Wall Street Journal: 3M CEO says demand for N95 masks exceeds capacity as Trump invokes Defense Production Act

The Wall Street Journal: 3M CEO says demand for N95 masks exceeds capacity as Trump invokes Defense Production Act


Associated Press

In this March 17, 2020, photo, Theresa Malijan, a registered nurse, has hand sanitizer applied on her hands after removing her gloves after she took a nasopharyngeal swab from a patient at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing station for University of Washington Medicine patients in Seattle.

American manufacturers say it will be months before they meet demand for high-quality masks, part of a broader breakdown in the effort to supply enough protective gear and lifesaving equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

3M Co.

MMM, +3.58%

 and a half dozen smaller competitors are making about 50 million of N95 masks—which block 95% of very small particles—in the U.S. each month. That is far short of the 300 million N95 masks the Department of Health and Human Services estimated in March that U.S. health-care workers would need monthly to fight a pandemic. U.S. hospitals that previously purchased masks from abroad have turned to overburdened domestic suppliers after many countries blocked exports to fight the virus within their own borders.

“The demand we have exceeds our production capacity,” 3M Chief Executive Mike Roman said in an interview.

3M has doubled mask production since January. President Trump on Thursday invoked the Defense Production Act against 3M, which gives the federal government more control over a company’s operations. 3M didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the move.

An expanded version of this story is available at WSJ.com

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