The Covid Audit and 3M’s Mask Debacle

Ever find yourself wishing you had an epidemiologist at the ready to answer your questions about the coronavirus? The Covid Audit, a new series from Elemental, is the next best thing. In it, everyday people document their daily activities to be assessed by an expert from the Epidemiology Covid-19 Response Corps at the Boston University School of Public Health. The first diarist is a nonprofit executive who takes a road trip with her family from New York to Kentucky; the first epidemiological question is raised before she even leaves town.

When surgical masks were in critically short supply in the U.S. during the early days of the pandemic, the president attacked the country’s biggest producer of N95s: 3M, the company best known for Post-Its and Scotch Tape. 3M was put to task by the Trump administration to churn out masks, its reputation tarnished in the eyes of Americans for not doing so in the first place. But as David H. Freeman writes at Marker, what happened behind the scenes at 3M is far more complicated. The company still isn’t making enough masks, and the ongoing shortage “could well become catastrophic during a pandemic second wave this fall or winter.”

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