3M has refuted White House criticism that its N95 mask capacity cannot keep up with demand, adding to the conflict between the trump administration and U.S. manufacturers competing to meet emergency medical equipment needs.
The Minnesota based company said on Friday it had increased its domestic production of masks, started importing them from Chinese factories and took action on reports of price hikes. Medical staff need masks to treat patients with coronavirus.
The company said it rejected the trump administration’s request to stop exporting some products and continued to sell some masks to Canada and Latin America. President trump on Thursday cited the defense production act to force 3m to produce enough N95 masks to meet the needs of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“It’s a big mistake to think that we didn’t do everything we could to provide respirators in the United States,” CEO Mike Roman told CNBC
3M is the latest company to be criticized by trump for fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Medical workers all over the United States are in urgent need of N95 medical masks (this type of masks can block 95% of small particles), masks, protective clothing and respirators. These protective equipment are the most important materials to avoid further epidemic.
Trump criticized GM last month for not being fast enough to produce a ventilator. GM executives were surprised by the criticism, saying the company had been unfairly attacked, people familiar with the matter told the Wall Street Journal. One person familiar with the matter said the company stressed the extent of its efforts to government officials, and a few days later the president changed his tone, saying the automaker had done “very well.”.
A Florida official told Fox News that the state could not buy masks because 3M exported them to other countries because they paid higher prices. In an interview with Bloomberg news, Mark Cuban also criticized 3M dealers for “making money from the epidemic.”.
On Thursday, trump tweeted that his government “will take tough measures against 3M today after seeing what they have done.”
3M defended the pricing of its masks in a statement on Friday.
“We are working with the U.S. attorney general and state attorney general to make it clear that 3M did not and will not increase the price of masks and make its own contribution in the fight against the epidemic,” the company said
The company said the trump administration also asked it to stop exporting its N95 masks made in the United States to Latin America and Canada, but “it’s against humanity.”
3M said Friday: “stopping the export of all respirators made in the United States could lead to retaliation from other countries. If this happens, the net number of respirators available in the United States will actually decrease. “
The White House did not immediately comment on 3M’s response. The company also said it looked forward to further expanding its capacity within the framework of the defense mobilization Act (PDA).
“We will continue to maximize the production of masks for U.S. health workers, just like every day since the beginning of the crisis,” 3M said
In recent months, the production of 3M masks has doubled. But Roman recently told the Wall Street Journal, “the market demand has exceeded our production capacity.”