What The U.S. Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Means for PPE Production
On Monday, November 15th, President Joe Biden made history by signing the US Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The bipartisan bill, topping $1 trillion, will invest in transportation networks, broadband, and public works. The White House has predicted that these significant investments will help add two million jobs a year for the next decade.
A portion of those jobs will come from domestic PPE companies like America1 PPE. The Make PPE in America Act, incorporated into the Title IX — Build America, Buy America provision of the infrastructure bill, will help bolster such American companies. The Make PPE in America Act, sponsored by Senators Rob Portman (R-OH) and Gary Peters (D-MI), was originally authored in early 2021 in response to national PPE shortages and faulty imported masks.
At the onset of the pandemic, PPE equipment, such as masks, were notoriously difficult to find. However, in September 2020, six months after the pandemic began, the shortage of masks increased to the hundreds of millions, according to Scott Paul, the president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing.
In order to meet demand, the U.S. turned to China as one of its main PPE suppliers. Masks were inexpensive and plentiful. However, the United States soon discovered that 60 to 70 percent of the imported KN95 masks did not deliver on their promise of 95 percent protection against air particles. These masks had been one of the recommended products for protection against the Delta wave and were commonly used by health workers throughout the country. State and local governments that purchased hundreds of thousands of these defective masks had to find replacements quickly. Many areas faced shortages and even risked a surge of cases.
In the meantime, numerous domestic PPE producers had downsized and risked shutting down. The reliance on foreign imports had shrunk their demand to historic lows as they couldn’t compete with the fast production and low prices of the foreign products. Americans were at a higher risk of contracting Covid-19 from faulty products, while high-quality American-made masks from companies such as America1 PPE sat in warehouses throughout the country, unused and unable to be sold.
In response, the government worked with big firms like 3M and Honeywell to ramp up their production. For the most part, they could do this easily — after all, 3M was the one to develop the N95 mask. Even with the increased production from big firms, though, small and medium-sized mask-production facilities would be needed if the U.S. were to rely on domestic suppliers to meet the demand for masks.
These smaller firms, however, had been burned before and did not wish to get hurt again. PPE production requires hefty capital investments and a larger labor force that could suck up resources with no guarantee of returns. The smaller firms have not been rushing to get in the game.
This will change with the Make PPE in America Act. The Act will play a large part in onshoring production of PPE by requiring federal agencies to sign long-term contracts for American-made PPE. America1 PPE and other US-based PPE manufacturers can rest assured knowing that there will be guaranteed demand for their supply. Consequently, they will be able to produce more masks, create more jobs, and expand their facilities, which will also ensure that Americans receive the high level of protection that they need.
This means that Americans will finally have enough masks to be able to use them once and dispose of them, as originally intended. American workers, healthcare professionals, and citizens will be able to go back to focusing on their jobs and daily tasks without worrying about finding basic protective equipment. The next time a health scare or pandemic threatens the country’s safety, America will be ready.
Visit our website to learn more about the safety measures and standards we follow to produce our American-made masks.