President Trump orders 3M to prioritize producing N95 respirator masks

It comes after 3M was criticized for shipping masks to foreign countries.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

President Donald Trump has invoked the Defense Production Act to force Minnesota-based 3M to focus all of its efforts on producing N95 respirator masks for healthcare workers as the novel coronavirus tightens its grip on America. 

The executive declaration rules that 3M "shall use any and all authority available under the Act to acquire, from any appropriate subsidiary or affiliate of 3M Company, the number of N-95 respirators that the Administrator determines to be appropriate."

Maplewood-based 3M says that the order stipulates that the company stops exporting U.S.-made masks to its Latin America and Canadian markets, and increase exportation of masks from overseas plants to the U.S.

It comes amid an ongoing shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers in the U.S., which now has more confirmed cases of COVID-19 than any other country.

President Trump tweeted that "We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks," adding that they'll "have a big price to pay." 

The president has not elaborated on what 3M was doing to deserve punishment, but there have been reports about tensions between his administration and 3M this week.

The Financial Times reported that 3M resisted White House demands that it ship 10 million N-95 masks it produced at its Singapore factory for Asian markets back to the U.S., with the company citing humanitarian grounds for its refusal due to the demand for masks in its Asian markets.

Then on Thursday, Florida's Division of Emergency Management head Jared Moskowitz, gave an interview to Fox News in which he alleged that 3M has been shipping the masks to foreign countries that have outbid the U.S. 

"They're specifically saying, 'Listen, we are sorry your order got pushed down, but ... there are foreign countries who do business differently and they're showing up with cash,'" Moskowitz said. 

Sign up for our BREAKING NEWS newsletters

3M says order could mean fewer masks in the U.S.

3M issued a response Friday morning, not commenting about sending masks to higher bidders, but saying that "there are significant humanitarian implications" if they follow the Trump Administration's request to stop exporting respirators to Canadian and Latin American markets.

Doing so, 3M says, "would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done."

"If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease," the company said.

The Maplewood-based manufacturer and others are producing about 50 million N95 masks a month, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is far short of the 300 million masks the Department of Health and Human Services estimated American healthcare facilities would need each month to safely battle the pandemic. 

Mike Roman, CEO of 3M, told the Journal that the global demand "exceeds our production capacity."

President Trump also used the Defense Production Act on six other medical device-makers, including Medtronic, which is now based in Ireland but retains a significant in the Twin Cities.

A spokesperson for Medtronic told Politico that it “is working to ensure that ventilator manufacturers, such as Medtronic, have the necessary supplies we need to continue to increase our production of these critical products.”

Next Up

Anthony Trifiletti

Watertown man found guilty of murder in road rage shooting

Anthony Trifiletti has been convicted in the killing of Douglas Cornelius Lewis following an argument over a fender bender.

police tape

Police: Man fatally shot in north Minneapolis home

Multiple people were questioned but no one is in custody.

Blue Door

The Blue Door is closing its original St. Paul location for good

Two of its Minneapolis locations are still open, with the third temporarily closed.

Fire, firefighters

Fire heavily damages century-old church in northeast Minneapolis

The fire started Monday night and caused much of the church's roof to collapse.

Mike Ryan

Charges: High school hockey coach killed in fight over distancing at St. Paul bar

The 48-year-old had coached in Bloomington hockey programs for more than 20 years.

Mondale

Walter Mondale dies at age of 93

His death was confirmed by family on Monday.

National Guard

Man charged in connection to shooting that injured National Guard troops

Four soldiers were inside a military vehicle that was shot at.

Chauvin trial

Walz declares emergency in Twin Cities, bringing in police from Ohio and Nebraska

The governor has asked the Legislature for emergency funding for the additional police.

derek chauvin court - closing arguments

Closing arguments in Derek Chauvin trial: Here's what was said

The jury listened to lengthy presentations from the prosecution and defense.

helicopter-186718_1280

Man, 55, airlifted to a hospital after hit-and-run in Granite Falls

The passenger in the vehicle told police about the incident.

Minneapolis, unrest

Facebook labels Minneapolis 'high-risk,' will remove posts that incite violence

Facebook will remove posts that call for weapons to be brought to Minneapolis and anything that celebrates George Floyd's death.

Related

N95 mask

3M sues Florida company that sold 10K counterfeit N95 masks to HCMC

The Maplewood company has obtained a temporary injunction against the firm.

N95 mask

Ellison to price-gougers: 'My office and I are coming after you'

A Little Canada-based company started selling N95 masks having never sold them before.

PPE, coronavirus, covid-19

Health department down to 1 week supply of gowns, low on other PPE

The shortage comes as Minnesota is competing with other states for PPE supplies.

N95 masks at a Target store.

Target issues apology after being called out for selling face masks in WA

The company says the N95 masks "were available for purchase in error."

N95 respirator mask.

Amid 'drastic' shortages, MN nurse group asking for N95 mask donations

Got any unused ones? You can give them to the MN Nurses Association.

3M mask

Minnesota, 3M remove 500K fake N95 respirators from circulation

The masks were headed to hospitals in Minnesota that couldn't get their own PPE.

Screen Shot 2020-03-22 at 2.52.00 PM

Coronavirus: 3M says it has doubled production of N95 respirators

The Maplewood company says its sending half a million to Seattle and New York.