12 U.S. Companies Making Masks and Ventilators to Help Fight Coronavirus
These companies are helping a nation in crisis deal with a dangerous shortage of medical equipment.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a spike in demand for the medical equipment doctors and nurses need to help treat patients with COVID-19. Since the supply of these critical medical resources are dangerously low, a handful of companies have pivoted to making masks, gowns, shields, and ventilators, using their factory and production resources to start making the equipment that is in such dire need.
The gear that medical professionals need to stay healthy is known as "personal protective equipment" (PPE) and given the current rush of coronavirus patients in several hotspots around the country, keeping healthcare workers safe is absolutely critical. And because of the acute pneumonia that comes with worst-case scenario coronavirus cases, respirators and ventilators are also in dangerously short supply.
To help out, automakers, fashion companies, and other corporations have changed their factory production lines to help a country in crisis, going from making cars and clothes to ventilators and masks. Here are some of the U.S.-based companies that have pivoted to start making the medical equipment that will truly save lives.
General Motors started collaborating with a ventilator company called Ventec a couple of weeks earlier and has mobilized more than 1,000 employees and nearly 100 auto suppliers to start making the machines, which can be used to help patients with COVID-19. In April, 1,000 GM workers will start producing 10,000 ventilators a month. GM is also manufacturing FDA-cleared surgical masks, hoping to produce 100,000 per day.
The classic preppy men's clothing brand is converting factories in three locations—New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts—to start producing medical gear such as masks and gowns. Following a two-week precautionary self-quarantine, Brooks Brothers is having employees go back to work this week in hopes of producing 150,000 masks per day.
President Donald Trump announced at a press conference last week that Hanes clothing company is retrofitting factories to make masks to combat the aggressive spread of the novel coronavirus. The company later confirmed it was pairing with the government to make masks for healthcare workers on the front line of fighting the disease.
MyPillow founder Mike Lindell is ubiquitous on cable news and is a vocal supporter of President Trump. Now, the patriotic small business owner is shifting a whopping 75 percent of production to making face masks for hospitals in dire need of support.
Michigan-based Ford is assisting General Electric Healthcare with ventilator production, according to Yahoo Finance. They are also partnering with 3M to produce masks and hope to make more than 100,000 masks a week at non-vehicle manufacturing facilities in Michigan, including using 3D printers to help.
The fashion designer and most successful winner of Project Runway was one of the first to respond to New York's surgical mask shortage by having his staff sew masks from home. Beginning Mar. 23, Siriano's staff started making about 500 masks a day and are accepting donations for the "cleaning and frequent sterilization of workers' spaces and facilities, providing safe and private travel accommodations for our workers located in and around New York City, and costs of production materials."
On Mar. 20, Tesla CEO Elon Musk purchased over 1,255 ventilators from China and donated them to Los Angeles hospitals. He has since pledged to donate "hundreds of ventilators" to New York City and state, including public hospitals. This comes after Musk tweeted on Mar. 18 that Tesla would make ventilators "if there is a shortage." New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded and the two have since been working together.
The massive clothing conglomerate announced on Twitter that it would pivot its considerable production resources to make masks, gowns, and other protective equipment. The Gap tweeted: "An update on our
#COVID19 response: Our teams are connecting some of the largest hospital networks in Calif. w/ our vendors to deliver PPE supplies while we pivot resources so factory partners can make masks, gowns & scrubs for healthcare workers on the front lines."
The iconic American fashion brand announced on Tuesday that it is working with its manufacturing partners to produce 250,000 protective masks and 25,000 isolation gowns to donate to healthcare workers in need. Ralph Lauren also announced other efforts to help during the coronavirus outbreak, including "a contribution to the Health Organization COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund made through the Ralph Lauren Corporate Foundation."
On Mar. 25, CEO John Donahoe announced that Nike is prototyping face shields to help healthcare professionals. "Based on needs identified by the teams and health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University, our teammates are working right now about how to best help, including prototyping face shields of OHSU and others," Donahoe said in a conference call.
The New England-based sneaker company New Balance will start producing face masks to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. A representative for the company said that while information about production at central Maine locations is not yet available, "the goal is to have all New England factories producing personal protective equipment once a prototype is made," according to CentralMaine.com.
Under Armour will produce at least 500,000 face masks and produce thousands of hospital gowns and face shields, critical pieces of protective equipment for hospitals that have been in short supply, according to The Baltimore Sun. The donation will be made to the University of Maryland Medical System.