One year into the COVID-19 pandemic, many millions of N95 masks are pouring out of American factories and heading into storage. Yet doctors and nurses say there still aren't enough. While supply and demand issues surrounding N95 respirators are well-documented, until now the reasons for this discrepancy have been unclear.
"How could this be happening? You have an obvious need, and you have a tremendous engine of supply,” said Tony Uphoff, president and CEO of Thomas, an online platform for product sourcing. Uphoff said that for decades the N95 market was stable, so when the virus upended the supply chain, procurement officers were unprepared to respond.