By Alex Leary and Austen Hufford 

The Trump administration will buy nearly 167 million face masks from 3M Co. over the next three months, a White House official said, as officials scramble to find protective equipment for front-line workers confronting the coronavirus pandemic.

3M came into conflict with President Trump last week. He criticized 3M's mask-making efforts and invoked the Defense Production Act against the company. That Korean War-era law gives the president power to compel manufacturers to make operational changes in the national interest.

An official said on Monday that the Trump administration didn't plan to take any further action against 3M under the DPA in addition to the mask purchases. The administration will purchase 55.5 Million masks from 3M in each of the next three months, the official said.

The order, for 166.5 million face masks total, includes respirators that are approved under typical N95 standard -- so called because those masks block 95% of very small particles -- as well as orders for products certified under a similar standard used in China known as KN95.

3M, which confirmed the purchase, has doubled its production of masks in recent months to about 100 million N95 masks globally each month, including 35 million in the U.S. 3M said last week that it would raise production in the U.S. to a monthly rate of 40 million within weeks, and that it would also import 10 million masks from its operations in China with the administration's help.

Other manufacturers including Honeywell International Inc. are also raising mask output in the U.S. The Department of Health and Human Services estimated in March that the U.S. would need about 300 million N95 masks a month to confront a pandemic.

Write to Alex Leary at and Austen Hufford at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 06, 2020 18:21 ET (22:21 GMT)

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