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.

  • Comments (6)

    • 6


      Huge amounts of DANGEROUS N95 masks out there, be careful.

    • 6

      One reason for minimal private citizen use of N95s is governmental restrictions.  Virginia had a well-worded Executive Order restricting N95 use to front line hospital workers (the additional labor categories not mentioned).  I have a supply of N95s and P100s but would not wear in public since these masks could provoke confrontations.

      The lessons are known.  It started prior to the masks.  During “Y2K” there were people starting to stockpile gasoline in 500 gal, 1,000 gal containers (of course not properly grounded) because thry anticipated gaoline shortages.  This area was a forest fire waiting for the spark.

      Mask sales / procurements by hospitals are not pure market economics. Must avoid here due the political components.  

      After this COVID-19 pandemic, my views focus to mosquito nets and the insecticides for both dwelling and evacs.

      • 7

        Mosquito nets & insecticides are a good thing to keep in storage.  Many don’t consider what happens when the power is off for extended periods.  Most homes today are not built for natural air circulation, as they were prior to AC.  Here in the deep south, without AC, we will be sleeping on the screen porches during the warm months.  Even with screened porches, mosquito netting will be needed.

      • 7

        No shortage of N95 or FFP3 masks in the UK, I must have over 500.

    • 5

      Placed an order, thanks for the link!

    • 11

      United States Mask is also a good N95 vendor, based out of Texas.