Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

N95 Mask Production Won't Meet Demand for Another Year, 3M Predicts

By Rich Smith – Apr 2, 2020 at 3:01PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Mask makers are ramping production as fast as they can -- and it's still not fast enough.

American industry is enlisting to fight in the war against coronavirus.

One of the leaders in this fight so far has been industrial giant and N95 mask-maker extraordinaire 3M (MMM -1.60%). As The Wall Street Journal reports today, before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, 3M was manufacturing about 50 million masks per month, which was sufficient to meet the needs of industrial workers and medical professionals all around the world. Some of those masks are still going to industrial workers. However, 90% of mask production is now going to healthcare workers to help combat the ongoing pandemic.  

N95 masks and coronaviruses on a red background

Image source: Getty Images.

And that's nowhere near enough.

According to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS), the U.S. alone now requires 300 million N95 masks to be produced every month. To help meet demand, 3M and a half dozen smaller companies that make the masks already have doubled their production to nearly 100 million.

The problem, however, is that only about 35 million of these masks are made in the U.S., and the countries where the rest are produced naturally want to use them locally to protect their own healthcare workers.

In its continuing effort to help meet demand, 3M says it is working to double its global N95 mask production numbers once again to 200 million units monthly. Combined with additional production by companies such as Honeywell (HON -1.82%) and Owens & Minor (OMI -4.14%), this should get us to the 300 million total units that DHHS says we need to meet domestic demand -- but not for another year.

Rich Smith has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends 3M. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

3M Company Stock Quote
3M Company
$110.50 (-1.60%) $-1.80
Honeywell International Inc. Stock Quote
Honeywell International Inc.
$166.97 (-1.82%) $-3.10
Owens & Minor, Inc. Stock Quote
Owens & Minor, Inc.
$24.10 (-4.14%) $-1.04

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 10/03/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.