3M: Halting N95 mask exports would hurt U.S.

An image of 3M's N95 mask.

The Trump administration’s request for 3M to halt exports of N95 respirator masks to Canada and Latin America would endanger healthcare workers and risk retaliatory measures that would endanger the U.S. supply of a key piece of protective equipment in the fight against COVID-19, the company said today.

3M warned of “significant humanitarian implications” of halting U.S. N95 exports after the Trump administration made the request as it invoked the Defense Production Act to boost the U.S.-based company’s production of the respirator masks.

“Ceasing all exports of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done,” 3M said in a statement. “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.”

President Trump also addressed 3M in a tweet on Thursday, saying, “We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their masks.”

Canada has been scrambling to secure N95 masks and other personal protective equipment as other countries, including Germany and China, restrict exports to ensure their domestic needs are met. 

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday that 11 million facemasks had arrived in Canada in recent days. He also noted that the federal government had ordered face shields from a hockey equipment company, Bauer.