The Corner

Economy & Business

Industries Mobilizing against the Coronavirus

You may not see it on television outside of CNBC, but manufacturers are pushing production of key medical equipment to the maximum.

3M in Aberdeen:

3M is ramping up hiring, hosting job fairs and making offers on the spot. In Aberdeen, South Dakota, at one of its largest manufacturing facilities. 3M has added robots to its assembly line all in an effort to meet the surge in demand for its face masks.

Andy Rehder, 3M plant manager, said “we immediately ramped up production in this facility. We have capacity to do that and we did that immediately, really from a more standard 5-day-a-week to a more a 7-day week with additional equipment we’ve been able to bring in and turn on.”

For those wondering if U.S. factories were manufacturing the face masks and then sending them abroad . . .

3M’s manufacturing model emphasizes local for local, which means the majority of our products made in China are sold in China, for example. We continue to manufacture personal protective equipment in multiple areas around the world, including in the United States.

While 3M manufactures millions of respirators per month at production facilities in the United States and China, as well as in Latin America, Europe and Asia, we expect demand for respirators and other supplies to outpace supply for the foreseeable future.

For those concerned about price-gouging, the company states, “while we have not changed the prices we charge for 3M respirators as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, we cannot control the prices other dealers or retailers charge.”

As for ventilators and breathing machines, in San Diego and Reno:

Firms that make the machines said they are ramping up for coming needs. An official from General Electric told ABC News the company is “taking steps to maximize our manufacturing capability and output while ensuring our plants can continue safe operations.”

Officials at another manufacturer, Drägerwerk AG & Co., told ABC News they just received an order for 10,000 ventilators from the German government. “The delivery of the order will stretch across the entire year and requires a substantial increase of the production capacity,” a spokesperson said.

A spokesperson for the San Diego-based firm ResMed said they are currently filling a higher-than normal number of orders from China and South Korea. “ResMed is confident it can meet current global demands,” the official said.

Bob Hamilton, the chief executive of the Reno-based Hamilton Medical Inc., told ABC News that his team is fielding calls from hospitals around the world and doing its best to meet the demand. Hospitals are saying “we’ll take them all,” Hamilton said.

Meanwhile, over in the United Kingdom:

Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to more than 60 manufacturing businesses and organizations to ask them to help step up the production of “vital medical equipment” such as ventilators for the National Health Service, a spokeswoman for his Downing Street office said.

As for that claim that the U.S. government wanted to get first dibs on a German manufacturer’s potential cure . . .

CureVac on Tuesday sought to play down any U.S. move.

“There was and is no offer from the U.S. neither with regard to taking over the company nor to have manufacturing slots reserved exclusively,” CureVac’s acting Chief Executive Franz-Werner Haas told journalists in a conference call, adding that its scientists had also not been lured to relocate.