The Covid-19 situation in the United States is getting worse.
At the time of writing, there are now 1,119,109 Covid-19 cases in the world. The US itself has 278,458 cases, nearly one-quarter of the total number of cases.
Which is probably why the US government is now scrambling to contain the situation.
Trump & 3M Comes To Blow Over N95 Masks
On 3 Apr 2020, Financial Times reported that US President Donald Trump was trying to force 3M to export 10 million masks from its hub in Singapore to the US.
The masks were originally meant for markets in Asia, and 3M refused to do so as this will deprive Asian countries’ healthcare workers of essential protection.
They did, however, commit to bringing 10 million masks to the US from a plant in China.
Unfortunately, not everyone agrees.
And by that, I mean the US administration.
The Defense Production Act (DPA)
“We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way.”
This was what the US President Donald Trump wrote in a tweet on Thursday night.
Turns out, the US administration has invoked the Defense Production Act.
Basically, the US government now has full authority to buy any number of mask respirators (N95 masks) from 3M and its subsidiaries, and they can’t say no.
Essentially, if they want 3M to only supply masks to the US, that’s the only thing 3M can do.
3M Wasn’t Acting In The Best Interest Of The US
According to ABC News, when Vice President Mike Pence visited a 3M factory in Minnesota, he was told that 3M has 35 million N95 masks intended for commercial uses but “can be used by healthcare too”.
However, a few weeks later, the US government found out that not all of the 35 million masks were ready for the US market.
The US administration implied that 3M went back on their words once they’ve gotten the liability protection that it wanted.
On the other hand, 3M said they have gone “above and beyond” in producing masks for the US in the “past weeks and months”.
In a 3M statement, they highlighted their efforts in aiding the US through this crucial time.
“This pandemic is affecting us all, and we are doing all we can to support public health and especially our first-responders and those impacted by this global health crisis. We are mobilizing all available resources and rapidly increasing the output of critical supplies healthcare workers in the United States and around the world need to help protect their lives as they treat others.”
90% of their respirators are now designated for healthcare workers while the remaining are distributing to industries critical to critical industries like “energy, food and pharmaceutical companies”.
They have also doubled their global output of respirators to 1.1 billion masks, which will come out to about 100 million masks per month.
Of which, 35 million was reserved for the US market.
3M also said that the US administration has requested for them to stop exports to Latin America and Canada.
They have warned the administration, telling them that with 3M being a critical supplier to these countries, it could result in a massive backlash.
So What’s Going To Happen?
3M will probably have to capitulate to the US administration’s orders, given how there are rumours that an unmerciful crackdown is on the horizon.
3M isn’t the only company being affected right now and has used the DPA to force other companies to manufacture ventilators for coronavirus patients.
General Motors also wasn’t spared either and the DPA was invoked against them last month.
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