Minnesota based manufacturer 3M (MMM -0.28%) has been increasing production of its N95 face masks to satisfy higher demand due to the spreading COVID-19 outbreak. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the N95 mask is the most common type of the seven types of particulate-filtering facepiece respirators, filtering at least 95% of airborne particles.

N95 face mask

Image source: Getty Images.

Vice President Mike Pence, who is heading up the White House Coronavirus Task Force, visited 3M headquarters in Minnesota yesterday to discuss the production increase. Pence said at a press briefing over the weekend that the government would be seeking an additional 35 million masks per month, though it wasn't clear if all would be N95 masks. 

Nikki McCullough, head of occupational health and safety at 3M, told Reuters that the company will be able to increase production. 3M regionally sources the material for the masks that it does not make itself in house, so there has been no supply chain disruption.

Not necessary if you're healthy  

The Vice President has noted that the increase in mask supply is meant for patients and healthcare workers. This follows the CDC recommendation, which states: 

  • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
  • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to  others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a healthcare facility).