The link to the article, if you haven't seen, is below. It briefly talks about the steps Taiwan took, including taking control of the mask production and sale. In another article by The Conversation, the Taiwanese government, with its 2003 SARS epidemic experience, partnered with the private sector to produce masks. This partnership added 60 production lines in 25 days to produce 20 million masks a day. Unlike here in the US, these were mainly medical-grade surgical masks for the general public. The US focused on N95 masks just for healthcare professionals. While this was undoubtedly critical, we believe that our government could have added more partnerships and done more to ensure that the public would have enough and proper, well qualified masks. It would be logical that the first line of defense be with the public getting equipped to lower infection, and the last line of defense be with the healthcare professionals helping those infected.
Unlike the US, Taiwan, and other COVID controlling countries, on another point, does not recommend cloth coverings. Especially not at the onset of the pandemic. They are starting to roll out high-performance reusable options now, but the authorities clarify that these are not to be considered PPE and if sick or going to any high-risk areas to use surgical masks.
I asked a friend of mine in Taiwan if he sees cloth masks used there, and he said none. According to him, before COVID, there were lots of cloth masks used (mostly for dust and pollution reasons), but when COVID hit, everyone went with the medical-grade surgical masks. He said that the masks were not given freely, but the government controlled the pricing. This was the condition of the government's partnership with the private sector when they funded the emergency production lines.
In all, let's hope that moving forward, the US will be more prepared to act. We all know that this will not be the last epidemic this country will go through.