MAPLEWOOD, Minn. — Vice President Mike Pence met with Governor Tim Walz and 3M leadership Thursday inside the company’s Innovation Center.

“This is an all hands on deck effort,” the Vice President said as he greeted guests.

As a leading maker of medical supplies and personal protection equipment, the company’s N-95 respirator is vital to the coronavirus containment fight.

“Seniors with other health challenges represent the most vulnerable population,” Pence said.

The Vice President made it clear that 3M is doing all it can to meet the demand for the respirators. But Pence said the general public should refrain from purchasing masks which are needed by medical workers tending to the sick.

The Vice President thanked 3M CEO Mike Roman for increasing production of the masks weeks ago.

“To see the way the company has already stepped up more than a month ago to go into full capacity, it should be a great source of encouragement and pride to all Minnesotans,” Pence said.

At a roundtable discussion, state health leaders insist that other styles of face masks should only be used by those who are sick to contain their coughs and sneezes. That style of mask is not effective in keeping virus particles from being inhaled from outside air.

Vice President Pence credits early travel restrictions from countries with COVID-19 outbreaks, put in place weeks ago, for helping contain a wider spread in the United States.

“It is here, and while we’ve had more than 100 cases and sadly lost 11 Americans to coronavirus, the truth is for healthy Americans the risk is very low,” Pence said.

After touring a display of 3M medical products, Pence says the $8 billion emergency funding bill now on its way to the President will help purchase some 35 million respirators for those on the front lines of this fight.

Bill Hudson

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