U.S. President Donald Trump clashed with 3M prohibiting the manufacturing firm from exporting personal protection equipment (PPE) as the coronavirus continues to ravage the country.
3M had allegedly been exporting protection gear to Germany and on Thursday, Trump tweeted that they were going after 3M because the company is said to be violating the Defense Production Act, an old law that dates back to the Korean War-era.
We hit 3M hard today after seeing what they were doing with their Masks. “P Act” all the way. Big surprise to many in government as to what they were doing – will have a big price to pay!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2020
Trump’s invocation of the act has been conservative with its use despite a group of more than 100 former national security officials urging the president to use it “to the full extent”.
Aside from 3M, the president also invoked the act to manufacturers such as Medtronic, Hill-Rom, Res Med, Vyaire Medical, Royal Philips and General Electric to produce ventilators.
The US is reportedly in dire need of protection gear, particularly for health workers and residents as the country continues to fight against the coronavirus.
Mike Roman, CEO of 3M reacted to Trump’s tweet saying that it was “absurd” that his company wasn’t doing anything to help the US combat the pandemic.
Export ban may ‘harm’ the US
In response to Trump, the company also said that there will be humanitarian implications if it ceases to export respirator supplies to other countries. 3M in a statement said:
“In addition, ceasing all export of respirators produced in the United States would likely cause other countries to retaliate and do the same, as some have already done […] If that were to occur, the net number of respirators being made available to the United States would actually decrease.”
A report from the Financial Times also said that a shipment of protective medical equipment made by 3M bound for Germany was allegedly intercepted in Thailand and diverted to the US.
In addition, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau advised that “it would not be a mistake to create blockages or reduce trade” since Canada does not manufacture any N95 masks as he told reporters:
“There are thousands of nurses in Windsor who work in Detroit every single day, and Americans depend on them. There are medical products and other essential goods that move across the border in both directions… these are things Americans rely on.”
Trump’s advice last March 31 said Americans could “use a scarf” to protect themselves against the virus.
However, in a White House news conference on April 3, he said that he will not wear one as he announced the new guidance coming from the CDC.
Moments after, First Lady Melania Trump advised citizens to take social distancing and wearing a mask seriously.
As the weekend approaches I ask that everyone take social distancing & wearing a mask/face covering seriously. #COVID19 is a virus that can spread to anyone – we can stop this together.
— Melania Trump (@FLOTUS) April 3, 2020
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar issued a statement on the new guidance:
“President Trump has relied on the advice of America’s best scientists throughout this crisis, and that science-based approach drove our new guidance around face coverings.”
Experts also suggested that there is little evidence that you can be protected from the virus by just wrapping your face with a piece of cloth.
Featured image courtesy of Flickr/Marco Verch