Coronavirus mask shortage prompts 3M, Honeywell response

There is a worldwide run on protective facial masks

Industrial giants Honeywell and 3M are racing to ramp up the production of protective facial masks amid a shortage as the deadly coronavirus spreads.

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TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
HONHONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC.180.81+0.69+0.38%
MMM3M COMPANY161.01+1.25+0.78%

AP Photo/Vincent Yu

"We are experiencing a surge in demand for our protective face masks in North America, Europe and China. We are increasing production at multiple facilities globally, and we are fulfilling all current orders," a Honeywell spokesperson told FOX Business. The company declined to identify which facilities would be ramping up.

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3M CEO Mike Roman said on Tuesday's fourth-quarter earnings call that his company is boosting production to meet demand caused by the coronavirus.

"We are seeing increased demand for our respiratory protection products and we are ramping up production worldwide," he said while noting that China, before the coronavirus outbreak, was a sluggish market. Sales in the Asia-Pacific unit fell 1.7 percent year-over-year.

The deadly illness has claimed the lives of 106 individuals and has sickened nearly 4,500 prompting consumers around the globe to stockpile facial masks.

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Searching Amazon, FOX Business found certain masks available, but the delivery date was early to mid-February.

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AMZNAMAZON.COM INC.2,134.87-15.00-0.70%

Despite a run on masks, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told the American public on Tuesday that they are unnecessary at this point and that the risk of contracting the virus was extremely low. He said public health officials are still learning about the severity of the virus.

Meanwhile, drugmakers are racing to develop a treatment for the virus, which in many cases leaves patients with flu-like symptoms, according to the CDC.

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NanoViricides President and Chairman Anil Diwan told FOX Business' Stuart Varney on Tuesday that his company is "four to six weeks away from having a candidate in hand" that would be a treatment for those infected by the virus.

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