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Trump, 3M reach deal for 55.5 million N95 masks

3M headquarters in Maplewood, Minn. (Glen Stubbe/Minneapolis Star Tribune/TNS)
April 07, 2020

After days of criticizing 3M, President Donald Trump said his administration and the Minnesota-based company have come to an “amicable” agreement to increase the supply of badly needed N95 respirator masks to U.S. health care workers.

“The 3M saga ends very happily,” Trump said during his news conference on Monday. “We’re very proud now to deal with 3M.”

Trump said 3M agreed to provide 55.5 million masks a month for the U.S. for three months. Most of them will be the highly coveted N95 respirators that filter out 95% of all particulates.

The company confirmed that the deal involves producing 35 million of the masks monthly in the U.S. and importing another 166.5 million from its overseas factories over the three-month period. By the end of June, 3M said its U.S. plants will be producing more than 50 million masks monthly.

“I want to thank President Donald Trump and the administration for their leadership and collaboration. We share the same goals of providing much-needed respirators to Americans across our country and combating criminals who seek to take advantage of the current crisis,” said 3M CEO Mike Roman.

Trump on Thursday criticized 3M, saying it was “going to pay” for its business practices of exporting mask supplies to Canada and Latin America. Trump invoked the Defense Production Act and ordered 3M to fill N95 respirator orders for the Federal Emergency Management Agency first, including importing from its overseas plants to do so.

On Friday, Trump national security adviser Peter Navarro accused 3M of profiteering.

3M said on Friday it was still working with the administration to help meet expectations and would follow the order as Trump wanted.

It is unclear from the White House and 3M statements how many of the masks under the deal announced Monday would go to FEMA. 3M did not return phone calls.

“Given the reality that demand for respirators outpaces supply, we are working around the clock to further expand our capacity, while prioritizing and redirecting our supplies to serve the most critical areas,” Roman said.

3M also said the administration worked with the company to ensure the plan does not create further humanitarian implications for other countries fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. The company on Friday expressed concerns that Trump’s Thursday order would especially affect Canada and Latin American countries, which are supplied through 3M’s U.S. factories in South Dakota and Nebraska.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau criticized Trump’s edict that 3M halt exporting masks made in the U.S., saying Canada provides many health care materials to the U.S. On Saturday, Trudeau said he would not take retaliatory action and also was talking with the administration.

The Trump administration and 3M on Monday increased the number of 3M respirator supplies that would be made for the U.S. market. In addition, 3M said it is “committed to further collaborate to fight price gouging and counterfeiting,” the company said in its statement.

3M Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs Denise Rutherford said Monday the company is trying to investigate every claim of fraudulent N95 masks and is working with law enforcement agencies, plus attorneys general and U.S. attorneys’ offices.

Roman said last week 3M has been ramping up production since early January to produce 35 million masks monthly at its U.S. plants. It had already started to import more. Last week, 10 million of the N95 respirators were shipped from China to the U.S.


© 2020 Star Tribune