3M to boost U.S. production of respirator masks to 50 million

3M world headquarters in Maplewood, Minnesota USA. EPA-EFE/CRAIG LASSIG

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3M Co expects to ramp up U.S. monthly production of N95 respirator masks to 50 million in June, the industrial giant said on Tuesday, as demand surges from healthcare professionals and first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic.

The company is also looking to produce 2 billion N95 respirators globally within the next year, again doubling capacity to produce the masks designed to filter 95% of airborne particles.

With medical facilities running low on ventilators and protective masks and hampered by limited diagnostic testing capacity, the outbreak has led to the deaths of over 2,800 Americans and infected over 160,000 as of Tuesday, surpassing the case counts of China and Italy.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has said that over the next 18 months it aims to buy 500 million masks for the Strategic National Stockpile, the nation’s supply of pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

3M said it was working with several sterilization companies to find a way for hospitals to safely clean, reuse and extend the life of the respirators.

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