N95 availability, as discussed in the NYT.
Fascinating story out of the NYT today: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/10/health/covid-masks-china-united-states.html
Headline: “Can’t Find an N95 Mask? This Company Has 30 Million That It Can’t Sell.”
Some takeaways below.
The big one: you can buy N95s! These manufacturers are legit, NIOSH-approved, the masks are American-made. You can buy them at the various providers linked directly in the article; not linking them directly myself because I’m not sure if it falls within the rules.
- There are a number of American manufacturers who invested a lot of money into both the infrastructure and the NIOSH approval necessary to manufacture N95s, but who haven’t been able to penetrate the distribution systems for hospitals.
- They’re sitting on millions of N95s, but they’re struggling to stay open and to even keep their workers employed. Our systems simply aren’t built to get those masks from manufacturers to individuals.
- Yet another indication that the country’s infrastructure hasn’t been able to flex to meet the needs of the pandemic. I’m sure everyone is tired of hearing it, but it’s just so terrible that we’ve been unable to widely distribute N95s to control spread.
- Will we learn any lessons from this into the future? We’re a year in and businesses aren’t seeing returns on investments into making necessary equipment. If we get hit by another similar pandemic 10 years into the future, businesses will need much stronger assurances to even bother investing into the relevant equipment or a ramping up of production.
- A year ago, if you asked me if my small stockpile of N95s was enough to carry me through, I would’ve said “sure, if I’m forced to re-use.” In fact, I remember having this conversation, and I literally said “well, production will ramp back up over time, so I just need to hold out till then!” Remarkable how even my most cynical assumptions from back then have proven insufficient.