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

Go deeper

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci: Trump hasn't been to a COVID task force meeting in months.
  2. Sports: The youth sports exodus continues — Big Ten football is back.
  3. Health: U.S. hits highest daily COVID-19 case count since pandemic began —AstraZeneca to resume vaccine trial in U.S.How to help save 130,000 lives.
  4. Retail: Santa won't greet kids at Macy's this year.
  5. World: Spain and France exceed 1 million cases.

Trump claims COVID "will go away," Biden calls his response disqualifying

President Trump repeated baseless claims at the final presidential debate that the coronavirus "will go away" and that the U.S. is "rounding the turn," while Joe Biden argued that any president that has allowed 220,000 Americans to die on his watch should not be re-elected.

Why it matters: The U.S. is now averaging about 59,000 new coronavirus infections a day, and added another 73,000 cases on Thursday, according to the Covid Tracking Project. The country recorded 1,038 deaths due to the virus Thursday, the highest since late September.

How the coronavirus pandemic could end

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

It's still the early days of the coronavirus pandemic, but history, biology and the knowledge gained from our first nine months with COVID-19 point to how the pandemic might end.

The big picture: Pandemics don't last forever. But when they end, it usually isn't because a virus disappears or is eliminated. Instead, they can settle into a population, becoming a constant background presence that occasionally flares up in local outbreaks.