The Chinese economy is still growing. But the recovery is slowing In 2,019, 72% of masks and respirators imported by the United States came from China, according to research by Chad Bown at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. When the pandemic first hit China, the Chinese government nationalized the production of its equipment personal protective equipment, including masks, and reduced exports to other countries. The United States quickly discovered that it did not have sufficient domestic manufacturing capacity to meet growing demand, which led to critical shortages and leaving American healthcare workers and others exposed. Learn More This is where Protective Health Gear and other US-based startups came in. Sanitary protection equipment is part of the American Mask Manufacturer 's Association (AMMA), a group of more than two dozen U.S.-based mask producers that started up during the pandemic to meet growing demand. But after China started exporting more PPE to the United States, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention then relaxed mask mandates for vaccinated Americans, the group has warned that its member companies may close their poryou are without government help. Lloyd Armbrust, the group's chairman, estimates that up to 10 of the group's 29 members have now stopped production, costing nearly 6,000 jobs. The group said it is working at the depot. a petition to the World Trade Organization and accused China of subsidizing the price of face masks at a fraction of the cost of production and undermining US producers. As US manufacturers have stepped up efforts to fill the void, China has cut prices and continues to sell masks in the US for $ 0.01 per mask, or less, continuing to undermine manufacturers' ability. Americans to produce high quality and reliable American products. made masks for the country, ' the group claimed in June . CNN has not independently verified this claim.Chinese Ministry of Commerce did not respond to a request for comment. As long as foreign masks are available , [hospitals and other US buyers] will continue to purchase them, said Mike Bowen, Texas-based mask vice president. Prestige Ameritech manufacturer. Bowen has warned for years that the United States 'dependence on cheaper foreign masks poses a national security concern. The solution, he said, is to stop all imports. Any government plan that allows foreign masks in the United States will fail to secure the supply chain, he said. He believes the US government should use all the tools at its disposal, including tariffs and subsidies, to achieve this goal. But he does not hope that the government risks this kind of upheaval with the spread of the Covid - 19. I think the pandemia will end without securing these supply chains, he said. Significant progress? In addition to the small producers who have entered the market, several large manufacturers have also stepped up production Significantly last year. Honeywell has increased its production capacity of N95 by 50 to one billion per year. 3M has tripled the production of N95 and other respirators in 2020 compared to 2019. And, in the same time, according to Bown's research, the amount the United States spent on imports of PPE from China more than tripled. How the pandemic turned the humble shipping containers into the hottest items vogue on the planet Soon after t Taking office earlier this year, President Joe Biden signed two executive orders calling on federal agencies to review the US PPE supply chain and identify potential gaps in domestic manufacturing capacity. We should not depend on a foreign country, especially a country that does not share our interests or values , in order to protect and provide for our people by national emergency, he told reporters in February. The White House told CNN that significant progress has been made in reducing imports and prioritizing domestic production of PPE. According to Tim Manning, the administration's national Covid-19 supply coordinator in the United States, [the] current estimate is that the manufacturing capacity is what we think is demand. unconstrained [in the United States]. A report from the government's accountability office in July confirmsthis, showing that by March of this year , the estimated production capacity for N95s in the United States had exceeded estimated domestic demand. In addition to the billions of dollars already committed to support manufacturing in the administration's US bailout, he said more money was coming and the administration was rethinking the way it creates its supplier contracts to focus on products made in the United States. He also has conversations with group buyers for hospitals and state and local government officials about purchasing PPE made in the US, he said. next pandemic The key question for the US government, however, is how much domestic production it should sustain in times of low demand to facilitate increased production when you have a pandemic, Bown said. Even thoughThe White House says there is enough manufacturing capacity in the United States to meet demand now, there is also a risk that it will disappear as the pandemic abates. Honeywell says it has already shut down manual production efforts for N95s at two facilities, although the company says it has maintained automated lines in other locations. Wolin said his business needs government support to be able to survive lean times and be there when it matters. When the CDC let go of its mask in May, demand fell off a cliff. Protective Health Gear has grown from 150 employees to 15. Now, as demand increases due to the spread of the Delta variant, they are down to 65 (hiring turns out to be another major challenge). Wolin said he is in talks with the government regarding the purchase of ses N95 for government agencies and the national strategic stock, but so far no agreement has been reached. We are not asking for documents. We know you need these particular supplies and we are just asking you to buy what we have, he said.