3M boosts production of facemasks as coronavirus spreads in China

Dee Depass, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Business News

3M has dramatically boosted production of its facemasks in at least two of its Chinese factories after Chinese news agencies reported that the plants ran out of stock in response to the sudden rise of a deadly Coronavirus in Wuhan, China.

3M officials would not confirm that they ran out of stock.

The Minnesota-based giant, however, said its factory employees are now working overtime making the protective facemasks that are now in high demand after the spread of a strain of coronavirus.

So far, the virus has killed at least 26 people in China and infected more than 900 worldwide, according to the Associated Press.

The United States has confirmed at least two cases, with both patients having returned from China with the virus. One is in Washington state, one in Chicago. There are two suspected cases in Minnesota.

China has now banned travel from 12 of its cities, including Wuhan, which has 11 million residents. The United States and other nations are aggressively screening travelers from China for fevers and other flu like symptoms that are common to the newly discovered coronavirus.

Travelers worldwide armed themselves with respiratory facemasks to shield themselves from the new virus. Chinese news agencies are reporting that it's hard to keep masks on the shelves.

3M, which manufactures respiratory protection products at numerous locations around the world, is trying to meet customers' needs, said 3M spokeswoman Jennifer Ehrlich in an e-mail.


"We are working to continue respirator production during the Chinese New Year holiday," she said.

A statement from 3M said the company is working with distributors to meet inventory needs and "end-user demand."

"3M is committed to supporting the public health and governmental response to the coronavirus while maintaining supply to existing customers," the statement said.

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