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Trump says administration "hit 3M hard" over face masks

Hospitals in crisis during coronavirus outbreak

President Trump blasted the company 3M in a tweet Thursday evening, after invoking the Defense Production Act to force the company to produce face masks. N95 face masks are critical for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, and there have been issues with mask shortages.

"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!" Mr. Trump wrote, referring to the Defense Production Act.

Mr. Trump announced during the White House coronavirus task force briefing on Thursday that he had signed an order for 3M to produce face masks.

"Hopefully they'll be able to do what they are supposed to do," Mr. Trump said, without offering details.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro also said during the briefing that there had been "issues" with 3M not providing enough masks to American buyers.

"We've had some issues making sure that all of the production that 3M does around the world, enough of it is coming back here to the right places," Navarro said.

In a statement responding to the president's announcement, 3M said that "3M and its employees have gone above and beyond to manufacture as many N95 respirators as possible for the U.S. market." The statement added that there would be "significant humanitarian implications" if the company followed the White House's order to stop exporting masks made in the U.S. to Canada and Latin American countries.

"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. That is the opposite of what we and the Administration, on behalf of the American people, both seek," the statement said.

3M said it was working to combat the "unethical and illegal" price gouging and unauthorized reselling of company products.

Jared Moskowitz, the head of Florida's Division of Emergency Management, said in an interview on Fox News Thursday evening that he had learned 3M distributors were sending face masks to foreign countries and had refused to send him essential equipment.

"We are chasing ghosts. I just decided to turn up the heat and tell people what is actually happening in the N95 mask space," Moskowitz told Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson. Moskowitz said 3M "decided to make a globalist decision and not put America first."

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