Why Did Tech Companies Stockpile Millions of Medical Masks?
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Why Did Tech Companies Stockpile Millions of Medical Masks?

Future Tense

Three children wearing white N95 masks hold up an American flag while a man stands behind them smiling and holding up a phone to take a picture or video.

Individuals watch President Donald Trump’s motorcade during his talk over with to view damage from wildfires in Paradise, California, on Nov. 17, 2018.

Saul Loeb/Getty Images

As hospitals in the U.S. face a excessive shortage of medical offers amid the coronavirus pandemic, tech giants are donating N95 respirators and surgical masks en masse. On Saturday, Elon Musk wrote in an email to CleanTechnica that Tesla/SpaceX can be distributing its provide of 250,000 N95 masks. Appropriate one day later, Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook will give away its emergency reserve of 720,000 masks. On Tuesday, Mike Pence confirmed that Apple is donating 9 million masks to health care facilities around the country.

Each time another tech company joins the donation ranks, the same interrogate retains popping up: Where accomplish all of these masks near from, since exactly none of these companies is in the mask production business?

The answer is easy: They’re based in California, where deadly wildfires occur each year, so these companies had stocked up to prepare for future fires. The adverse 2018 wildfire season was a particular catalyst for mask stockpiling.

Facebook, for example, was true following standard guidelines from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said Chloe Meyere, a communications manager for Facebook. FEMA recommends a certain selection of masks (as well as emergency meals and water) per employee, Meyere explained, and California’s guidelines in particular changed after the 2018 wildfires, which severely impacted air quality. (Even California officials advised residents to stay indoors and wear N95 masks when they had to step outside.) Many companies in the San Francisco Bay Area stocked up to meet the unusual minimum. Now, because Facebook workers are underneath mandatory work-from-dwelling orders, the company has no immediate use for its provide, which includes both N95 and surgical masks.

Whereas the mass mask donations are certainly practical, they’re calm true a topple in the bucket, as Vox now no longer too long ago reported. Hospitals are burning thru masks at remarkable rates. NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, for instance, goes thru about 40,000 non-N95 masks per day and expects to soon use 70,000 per day, according to an internal memo by the hospital’s chief surgeon. Prior to the pandemic, the hospital extinct true 4,000 masks on a normal day. Pence said on Saturday that the Department of Health and Human Companies and products has ordered hundreds of hundreds of thousands of masks to address shortages, though the details of the teach are at display unknown.

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