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Ford to produce medical equipment amid COVID-19 outbreak

By Scott McClallen

DETROIT – Ford Motor Company is teaming with major medical and health-care groups to boost the production of medical gear for the protection of those providing critical services amid the COVID-19 outbreak.

The U.S. government asked private companies to help fill medical equipment shortages. 3M and GE Healthcare answered.

Ford plans to work with the United Auto Workers to assemble more than 100,000 face shields a week in its Plymouth facility for critical care workers under Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s ‘stay at home’ order.

Whitmer said in a press conference Monday that hospitals lacked proper amounts of protective gear.

“This is such a critical time for America and the world. It is a time for action and cooperation. By coming together across multiple industries, we can make a real difference for people in need and for those on the front lines of this crisis,” Ford’s Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement.

The groups are pooling resources to ramp up critical gear production, including powered air-purifying respirators, ventilators and face shields.

“We’ve been in regular dialogue with federal, state and local officials to understand the areas of greatest needs,” Ford President and CEO Jim Hackett said in a statement.

“We are focusing our efforts to help increase the supply of respirators, face shields and ventilators that can help assist health care workers, first responders, critical workers as well as those who have been infected by the virus.”

Ford is collaborating with 3M and GE Healthcare to scale creation of powered air-purifying respirators and ventilators.

For example, fans that cool F-150 truck seats will play a part in the function of air-purifying respirators, with the help of 3M air filters and portable battery packs.

“It’s crucial that we mobilize all resources to protect lives and defeat this disease, and I’m incredibly grateful to Ford and their employees for this partnership,” 3M Board Chairman and CEO Mike Roman said in a statement.

GE Healthcare President and CEO Kieran Murphy said they were encouraged how quickly different companies united to address new challenges from COVID-19.

“We are proud to bring our clinical and technical expertise to this collaboration with Ford, working together to serve unprecedented demand for this life-saving technology and urgently support customers as they meet patient needs,” Murphy said in a statement.

The first 1,000 Ford-designed face shields will be rolled out this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace hospitals.

Ford expects to finish producing about 75,000 face shields this week.

Scott McClallen is a staff writer covering Michigan and Minnesota for The Center Square. A graduate of Hillsdale College, his work has appeared on and Previously, he worked as a financial analyst at Pepsi.

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