Medical device manufacturer 3M says it is under pressure from the White House to stop exporting N95 masks it currently produces in the United States to other countries, including Canada.
The Minneapolis-based company said in a press release Friday that while it welcomes the Trump administration’s invocation of the Defense Production Act to compel domestic companies to produce critically needed medical infrastructure, it presents some problems, too.
Among other things, the order mandates that 3M stop making N95 masks that are destined for customers in Canada and Latin America, and instead keep them in the U.S.
Health-care workers around the world are currently facing a desperate shortage of such masks in their fight to contain the spread of the coronavirus, which causes COVID-19.
“There are, however, significant humanitarian implications of ceasing respirator supplies to health-care workers in Canada and Latin America, where we are a critical supplier of respirators,” the company said in a press release.
In the release, 3M also warns that any such move could actually backfire on the U.S. and impact the supply of masks and other medical equipment.
“Ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States 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. That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek.”
More to come.