Vice President Mike Pence visited the 3M Innovation Center in Maplewood, Minnesota Thursday to discuss the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus.
“En route to Minnesota to visit 3M, where they are producing critical protection gear for our nation’s health care providers. We will continue to work with companies like 3M to ensure local partners have all of the resources they need to care for the American people,” the vice president wrote on Twitter ahead of his visit.
En route to Minnesota to visit @3M, where they are producing critical protection gear for our Nation’s health care providers. We will continue to work with companies like @3M to ensure our local partners have all of the resources they need to care for the American people.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) March 5, 2020
Vice President Pence was joined at his meeting with 3M leaders by Gov. Tim Walz and thanked the company for shifting to “full capacity” production of N95 respirators, a protective face mask. Pence said 3M has the capacity to produce four million masks per month for use in the coronavirus response.
He urged consumers, however, to avoid purchasing the masks if they aren’t sick, since doing so would diminish the supply for health care workers and people with the virus.
VP arrives in Minneapolis for talks at @3M about stepping up manufacture of face mask for healthcare workers dealing with Coronavirus. Press pool told he used flight for calls with Task Force members @SecAzar and @DHS_Wolf. pic.twitter.com/d9mXEzSxbw
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) March 5, 2020
“I think we are ready today, but we want to be ready tomorrow,” Pence said during a press conference in regards to concerns about a shortage of protective masks. “Fortunately, for most people who contract this virus, they will recover and recover fully.”
He said that one of the “ways the American people can help us” is by making sure that medical equipment is “available broadly” by not “buying masks” and “taking them off the market.”
Pence acknowledged that there are currently not enough test kits “today” to “meet what we anticipate will be the demand going forward.”
“As more Americans take an interest in this or have concerns about this, we want to make sure they have access to a coronavirus test as well and we’ve made real progress on that in the last several days,” he said.
President Donald Trump recently appointed Pence to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force and his Minnesota visit was part of a multi-state tour addressing the virus. Pence canceled a scheduled appearance in St. Paul Thursday night so that he could travel to Washington state, which has been hit hardest by the outbreak. Second Lady Karen Pence will still be speaking at the St. Paul event.
Minnesota has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. As of Thursday morning, there were 159 confirmed cases in the United States and 11 deaths.
“Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence’s trip reinforces the Trump administration’s commitment to fight for Minnesota,” said Republican National Committee spokesperson Preya Samsundar. “Whether it’s negotiating with local business or promoting policies beneficial for their families, Minnesotans know the ‘America first’ agenda will always put them first.”
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