At 3M, we are fully committed to fight the spread of COVID-19 by supporting healthcare workers in the United States and worldwide.
“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 output of critical supplies healthcare workers in the United States and around the world need to help protect their lives as they treat others,” said Mike Roman, 3M chairman and chief executive officer.
In the United States, more than 90% of our respirators are now designated for healthcare workers, with the remaining deployed to other industries also critical in this pandemic, including energy, food and pharmaceutical companies.
On Tuesday, March 31, Mike shared in a LinkedIn post how we’re continuing to work to get product where it’s needed most, as well as how we’re helping to root out counterfeits and curb price gouging on our products.
"We continue to act with urgency to address this crisis from every angle and do all we can to protect our heroic nurses, doctors and first responders. As previously communicated, beginning in January we ramped up to maximum production of N95 respirators, doubling our global output to a rate of 1.1 billion per year, or 100 million per month. This includes 35 million per month in the United States, and over just the last seven days we have delivered 10 million N95 respirators to healthcare facilities in states across the country,” Mike said.
Supporting emergency response and addressing supply concerns
We’ve already put into motion additional investments and actions that will enable us to double our capacity once again, to 2 billion globally within the next 12 months – and some of that additional capacity will begin to come online in the next 60 to 90 days. In the United States, we expect to be producing N95 respirators at a rate of 50 million per month in June, a 40 percent increase from current levels.
The company is also maximizing production of a wide range of other products used in the COVID-19 response globally including hand sanitizers, disinfectants and filtration solutions as the pharmaceutical industry works to find a vaccine to fight the virus.
Of our U.S. supply of N95 respirators directed toward healthcare and public health, roughly 80 percent is flowing rapidly through our healthcare distributors – primarily consisting of six large and well-known companies with incredible logistical capabilities – which is the quickest and most effective method of getting those supplies into the hands of workers. These N95 respirators are moving directly from 3M, to our healthcare distributors, to healthcare facilities and end-users. We are working closely with these partners to expedite delivery even more, which in some cases includes moving pallets directly from our plants into critical areas – as we have done over the last week to New York City and Seattle. The remaining 20 percent is being directed to the federal government, with the largest portion going to FEMA who will allocate based on their determination of the most urgent needs. The prioritization and distribution of all of our N95 respirators are being coordinated in close partnership with FEMA, and we are directly embedded with them at their headquarters to help streamline decision-making and action.
This is not just a 3M challenge; it’s an industry-wide challenge. Even with 3M’s accelerated production combined with capacity from other manufacturers, the reality is that demand for N95 respirators is much higher than the industries’ ability to deliver. That is why we continue to explore innovative partnerships and solutions to help protect our healthcare workers in this extraordinary time.
Given the high use rate of N95 respirators, 3M engineers are right now collaborating with several sterilization companies to find a way for hospitals to safely clean, reuse and extend the life of these respirators.
Additionally, we are partnering with Ford to bolster production of 3M’s powered air purifying respirators (PAPRs), which are highly specialized pieces of equipment used in the most demanding healthcare environments. We’re moving forward quickly with the goal of increasing PAPR production by six-fold within the next 60 to 90 days.
Curbing counterfeits and profiteering
3M also continues to act on reports of counterfeiting and price gouging related to our respirators. This activity is unethical and illegal, and we’re doing all we can to end it. A week ago, Mike sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General and the attorneys general of every state making clear that 3M has not and will not raise its prices for respirators in this crisis, and offering our assistance in the fight against unconscionable activities.
We’re actively working with law enforcement, our retail partners and others to identify and punish perpetrators. To help our customers identify and avoid inflated prices, today we are publicly publishing the list prices for our N95 respirators and activating a hotline to help customers and end-users verify the authenticity of 3M products and report suspected fraud. We’ve also made it clear to our channel partners that 3M will not tolerate any such activity, and that we will aggressively pursue third parties that seek to take advantage of this crisis.
People are our priority
Our highest priority is the safety of our people and the public.
3M is grateful for the efforts of employees around the globe who are working hard to maintain operations and increase production of needed supplies to assist our customers treat and help protect people – including those in our plants and distribution centers who are helping make and deliver critical supplies to where they’re desperately needed. We continue to prioritize the safety of our people and do all we can to support them – from remote work when possible, to social distancing and robust protocols for cleaning in our plants.
Early on, 3M restricted international travel that was not deemed business critical and supplied employees with information on precautionary steps they could take to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 – as well as the actions they should take if they become ill.
3M has also responded through donations to local and global humanitarian agencies.