Published: Tue, March 24, 2020
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

3M CEO: Our medical masks should not be showing up in stores

3M CEO: Our medical masks should not be showing up in stores

3M is the largest maker of medical face masks, specifically the N95 respirator mask.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said his office intervened when it received reports Saturday that the much-needed N95 masks were on Target shelves.

Shannon Sherman, a registered nurse in a recovery unit, says the administration is following federal guidelines to conserve resources, but nurses feel uncomfortable reusing masks that normally get thrown out every time they leave a patient's room.

The N95 respirator masks that have ended up in retail locations in recent days are likely due to existing inventory, Roman said.

"In the United States, we produce 35 million respirators per month".

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The company has now shifted more than 90% of its masks to health-care workers, while the rest goes to "other industries also critical in this pandemic" such as food, energy and pharmaceuticals companies, Roman said in a statement Sunday.

Roman said he was "disappointed" that the masks were sold in some stores this weekend, alluding to Target. Hospitals and health care workers say the do-it-yourself face masks are a last resort but better than nothing. At a note on LinkedIn, CEO Mike Roman reported that the company, which will be headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., had rallied up to its creation of N95 masks to nearly 100 million per month globally, including more than 35 million per month in the United States. That included certain N95 masks, according to the FDA's statement. "It gave us the certification that we needed to be able to do that", according to Roman.

"It's outrageous that a hospital doesn't have enough proper masks to protect us and yet it tells us not to use our own", said Tom Goodman, an emergency department RN who was told he could not use an unused donated mask.

A nationwide shortage of N95s at the start of the COVID-19 crisis in January forced 3M to boost production of this vital respirator. He said other companies in areas such as logistics are working with 3M to help it continue to expand its capacity.

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