Home Depot executes ‘stop-sale’ order for N95 masks, donates them to health care workers during coronavirus

Home Depot said it has halted all sales of N95 masks at its stores and website and “redirected” them to be donated to hospitals, health care workers and first responders treating patients during the coronavirus pandemic.

The company said Wednesday that it had issued the “stop-sale” order to all its stores and website for N95 masks, a tight-fitting respirator that offers more protection than standard facemasks.

The move came as retailers have come under scrutiny for continuing to sell the respirators amid a shortage for health care professionals during COVID-19.

Target last week apologized on Twitter for selling N95 masks in some Seattle stores.

Mike Roman, CEO and chairman of N95 respirator maker 3M, last week criticized retailers that were still selling the masks.

“It’s disappointing when you see that because we’re trying to redirect everything to health-care workers,” Roman said on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

Home Depot spokesperson Sara Gorman said in an email that the company “stopped replenishing stores when we ran out starting a couple weeks ago.”

“Then we asked stores to search for any leftover that might be in the overhead, or anywhere else, and to donate them locally. We redirected all shipments in our supply chain to be donated to hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders around the country. As an extra precaution, we locked them down with a stop sale beginning last week,” she said.

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Marvin Ellison, CEO of Home Depot rival Lowe’s, told USA TODAY last week that the company was donating N-95 masks to medical centers across the country.

Home Depot said Wednesday in a statement that it is also “donating millions of dollars in personal protective equipment (PPE) and other products and prioritizing fulfillment to hospitals, healthcare providers and first responders.”

Also Wednesday, Home Depot announced it would:

• Close stores at 6 p.m. “to allow more time for sanitization and restocking.”

• Limit the number of customers allowed into its stores.

• Abandon “major spring promotions to avoid driving high levels of traffic to stores.”

• Pare back services and installations “to those that are essential for maintenance and repair needs in impacted markets.”

• Ask employees to check their temperatures with a company-provided thermometer before coming to work.

Home Depot added: “We’ve been marshalling the resources of our merchandising and supply chain teams to globally source quality products and expedite the availability of needed items.”

Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.

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