A shortage of PPE, specifically N95 and similar face masks, in the critical first weeks of Covid-19 hitting U.S. shores caused many manufacturers to shift their capabilities. Major companies like Ford, as well as smaller independent businesses, did their part to reduce the shortage and meet the demand created by widespread mask mandates. But as those mandates are lifted, some companies are now dealing with a surplus PPE.


Pivoting Production To Fill Critical Gaps 

Back in the spring of 2020, many companies made truly impressive pivots: liquor and beer makers began producing hand sanitizer, fashion designers switched from sewing designer dresses to designer face coverings, sports equipment manufacturers began producing face shields, heavy equipment manufacturers devoted their resources to building respirators. The effects were powerful, with manufacturers of all types doing their part to fill in vital supply chain gaps within a matter of weeks.

A little over a year later, many of these companies are now returning their production spaces back to their former purposes. Their stockrooms and warehouses, however, are another matter. For many of these companies, stacks and upon stacks of face masks and shields, gloves, and other types of PPE are sitting and awaiting buyers.

Tens of thousands of surgical masks, which are being distributed to frontline workers across the MTA, are received at the MTA New York City Transit Tiffany Street Central Warehouse on Thu., April 2, 2020. Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York

But while these companies are eager to fill orders and clear their storage and shipping spaces, some healthcare providers are struggling to find PPE that’s remained in tenuous supply since the earliest days of the pandemic. The N95 mask in particular remains elusive for doctors, nurses, and other professionals who rely on this highly effective respirator mask. And yet, manufacturers are sitting with surpluses and cutting their standard product capacities.

A Disconnect Between Supply And Demand

The key disconnect between this unusually high supply and high demand is reportedly rooted in the supply chain and issues with larger distributors, like Amazon, impacting the flow of domestically manufactured products. Limited sales and distribution resources of smaller manufacturers have hindered connections with larger hospitals and organizations that are eager to place orders. And for many of these smaller mask manufacturing companies, their lack of name recognition has caused many large healthcare providers, hospitals, and clinics to overlook their N95 masks as a viable alternative to larger, internationally manufactured brands.

Compared to many of the cloth masks and non-regulated PPE used by ordinary people, N95 masks will remain essential even as mask mandates are lifted. The federal government is now making great efforts to connect smaller domestic manufacturers with healthcare facilities to remedy the supply chain gap.

What are your thoughts on the many supply chain issues that continue to impact all types of industries due to the pandemic? Comment and share your experiences.


Ford is a family company, one that spans the globe and has shared ideals. We value service to each other and the world as much as to our customers. Generations have made their memories with us and included us in their hopes and dreams. After 117 years, we’re used to adapting to and leading change. That’s why we’re evolving to focus on services, experiences and software as well as vehicles.

With the people of Ford around the world, our leadership is committed to serving all of our stakeholder groups. Like generations of leaders before them, they understand that by helping to create a world with fewer obstacles and limits, we help people to move forward and upward.

ABOUT Amazon

We started in a garage, but we’re not there anymore. We are big, we impact the world, and we are far from perfect. We must be humble and thoughtful about even the secondary effects of our actions. Our local communities, planet, and future generations need us to be better every day.

We must begin each day with a determination to make better, do better, and be better for our customers, our employees, our partners, and the world at large. And we must end every day knowing we can do even more tomorrow. Leaders create more than they consume and always leave things better than how they found them.

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