Who Makes N95 Masks?
3M (ticker: MMM) is the largest producer, making about 35 million N95 masks a month in the U.S. The company is ramping production to about 50 million a month over the coming weeks.
Honeywell (HON) is also increasing production. It hopes to be making 10 to 20 million N95 masks in the U.S. each month.
Globally, the market for N95 respirators, according to Anderson, was about $1 billion in 2019. That works out to roughly 1 to 1.2 billion units. The masks are, ultimately, worth about a dollar.
North America accounted for about one-third of global demand. Only 14% of N95 masks ended up in the health-care industry. Any industry where there is grinding or sanding—whether it is in construction or manufacturing—uses N95-type masks.
Who Needs N95 Masks?
Health-care workers need masks more than ever right now, but shortages are out there. New York state, for instance, recently recommended health-care workers reuse masks to stretch their supplies.
New York City and the surrounding area remains the epicenter of the American outbreak. New York City reports more than 81,000 Covid-19 cases and 4,500 deaths, accounting for 19% of total cases and 30% of fatalities in the nation.
Newly diagnosed Covid-19 cases in the U.S. are running around 30,000 a day, down a little from peak levels. Newly diagnosed cases around the world are running around 70,000 a day, also down slightly from peak levels.
The CDC now recommends that Americans wear masks when out in public areas where maintaining social distancing is difficult, such as grocery stores.
But the CDC isn’t recommending N95 masks for the general public. In fact, the CDC offers templates for sewing cloth masks, filled with coffee filters. Masks like that are far lower-tech, designed to protect people from the occasional cough or sneeze.