Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

3M said Thursday it has investigated over 4,000 reports and filed 18 lawsuits in response to suspected price gouging, counterfeiting, and fraud regarding the sale of N95 respirator masks.

Why it matters: The U.S. is potentially staring down another severe shortage of face masks, gowns and other protective equipment — which are especially needed by health care workers — amid the coronavirus surge.

  • The company said that any damages recovered through its lawsuits will be donated to nonprofit coronavirus relief efforts, including Direct Relief.

The big picture: 3M faced criticism from President Trump and other prominent observers, like Mark Cuban, over its respirator production early in the pandemic.

  • Cuban criticized the company in April for "making more globally than domestically," echoing a similar line from Trump now as the U.S. became the epicenter of the pandemic. "You can't ghost the American people," he told Axios.
  • 3M says it has delivered nearly 100 million N95 masks to hospitals around the U.S. as of July, while manufacturing 50 million respirators a month.

Go deeper: PPE failure, again

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Updated 2 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

While several novel coronavirus vaccines are in late-stage trials, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned on Monday: "There is no silver bullet at the moment, and there might never be."

What he's saying: "For now, stopping outbreaks comes down the the basis of public health and disease control," Tedros said. Testing, isolating and treating patients and tracing and quarantining their contacts."

Google to keep workers at home through July 2021

Google CEO Sundar Pichai. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

Google will keep its employees out of its offices and working from home through at least next July, the tech giant confirmed on Monday.

Why it matters: It's the first major U.S. company to allow remote work for such an extended period in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the extension.

Jul 28, 2020 - Health

Axios-Ipsos poll: The rise of coronavirus social bubbles

Data: Axios/Ipsos poll; Note: 1,076 U.S. adults were surveyed with ±3.1% margin of error; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Nearly half of Americans say they've established social "bubbles" of people they can trust to follow the rules for minimizing the risk of spreading the coronavirus, according to the latest installment of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index.

Between the lines: The trend isn't particularly partisan. It is most common in the suburbs and among women, older adults and people with college educations.