COVID-19 Update: Ford to Produce 50,000 Ventilators in 100 Days, Dow Ramps Up Hand Sanitizer Production, MSU 3-D Prints Protective Face Shields, and More

Seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19, here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the pandemic as well as announcements from local, state, and federal governments, and international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.
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Bridge map of Michigan coronavirus cases
Courtesy of Bridge, as of March 30

Seeking to limit the spread of COVID-19, here is a roundup of the latest news concerning the pandemic as well as announcements from local, state, and federal governments, and international channels. To share a business or nonprofit story, please send us a message.

Ford to Produce 50,000 Ventilators in Michigan
Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn, in collaboration with GE Healthcare, announced March 30 that it will begin producing in Michigan a ventilator designed by Airon Corp. with the goal to produce 50,000 of the vitally needed units within 100 days and up to 30,000 a month thereafter as needed.

Ford says it will provide its manufacturing capabilities to quickly scale production, and GE Healthcare will provide its clinical expertise. GE Healthcare brought the Airon Corp. design to Ford’s attention as part of the companies’ efforts to scale production of ventilators quickly to help clinicians treat COVID-19 patients.

The GE/Airon Model A-E ventilator uses a design that operates on air pressure without the need for electricity, addressing the needs of most COVID-19 patients. Its production can be quickly scaled to help meet growing demand in the U.S.

“The Ford and GE Healthcare teams, working creatively and tirelessly, have found a way to produce this vitally needed ventilator quickly and in meaningful numbers,” says Jim Hackett, president and CEO of Ford. “By producing this ventilator in Michigan, in strong partnership with the UAW, we can help health care workers save lives, and that’s our No. 1 priority.”

Ford initially will send a team to work with Airon to boost production in Florida, and by the week of April 20, will start production at Ford’s Rawsonville Components Plant in Ypsilanti, quickly ramping up to reach full production to help meet surging demand.

Ford expects to produce 1,500 by the end of April, 12,000 by the end of May and 50,000 by July 4, helping the U.S. government meet its goal of producing 100,000 ventilators in 100 days.

Ford’s Rawsonville plant will produce the ventilators nearly around the clock, with 500 paid volunteer UAW-represented employees working on three shifts. Airon currently produces three Airon pNeuton Model A ventilators per day in Melbourne, Fla. At full production, Ford plans to make 7,200 Airon-licensed Model A-E ventilators per week.

In other Ford COVID-19 news, the automaker announced today that it is delaying the restart of production at its North America plants to help protect its workers. The company had been aiming to restart production April 6 at Hermosillo Assembly Plant and April 14 at several key U.S. plants – and now has further postponed startup dates, which will be announced later.

“The health and safety of our workforce, dealers, customers, partners, and communities remains our highest priority,” says Kumar Galhotra, president of Ford North America. “We are working very closely with union leaders – especially at the UAW – to develop additional health and safety procedures aimed at helping keep our workforce safe and healthy.”

When the Rawsonville Components Plant begins production of ventilators, the workforce will notice additional health measures in place. Workers will have to self-certify online every day that they are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms. If they are, they will not be allowed to work. Workstations will be spaced at least six feet apart to maintain proper social distancing. Shifts will be separated so there is no contact between workers in the different shifts.

Hand Sanitizer Production
Midland-based Dow announced March 30 that its manufacturing operations in Auburn, Mich.; South Charleston, W.V.; Seneffe, Belgium; and Hortolândia, Brazil will begin producing hand sanitizer. These locations join Dow’s site in Stade, Germany, which already produced hand sanitizer for donation.

Dow does not typically produce hand sanitizer, but a large portion of the required raw materials are readily available at company sites. In addition, Dow’s asset flexibility allows for a meaningful volume of sanitizer to be produced with little to no impact to normal operations.

Dow collaborated with officials in each of the locations to understand their needs and requirements. In the U.S., the company worked with officials in Michigan and West Virginia, as well as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, and the Department of Homeland Security. These agencies provided useful, timely guidance as Dow completed the permitting, licensing, and raw material procurement processes.

Dow’s Auburn site has the capacity to produce approximately 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of hand sanitizer per week, which equates to nearly 30,000 eight-ounce bottles. Similar or greater volumes are expected to be produced at the other Dow locations. When all of these locations are at full production, Dow’s collective output is expected to reach more than 440,000 pounds (200 metric tons), or the equivalent of more than 880,000 eight-ounce bottles. Production of hand sanitizer will occur for approximately four weeks in the four Dow sites, after which time Dow will assess extending production based on raw material availability and market need.

In Michigan, hand sanitizer will be donated to the following entities: THRIVE (Transforming Health Regionally in a Vibrant Economy), a co-led initiative between the Michigan Health Improvement Alliance; and the Great Lakes Bay Regional Alliance, for distribution to area hospitals and first responders in the Great Lakes Bay Region

Employment
Michigan companies need to fill thousands of critical, immediate vacancies to support work during the COVID-19 pandemic, including those in logistics, healthcare, manufacturing, and agribusiness industries. The state’s employment search engine – Pure Michigan Talent Connect – provides job seekers and employers with an online portal at MiTalent.org to post, search, and connect to these job openings.

Thousands of new jobs are being posted each day. Employers looking to hire during the COVID-19 pandemic should use the COVID-19 On-Demand Hiring Intake Form to ensure their postings appear in the search results.

The latest state information on the pandemic is available here.

Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace has 100 part-time, full-time, and temporary positions open to meet increased customer needs at its stores in Troy, Clinton Township, St. Clair Shores, and Bloomfield Township.

On March 16, the gourmet grocer began paying all associates an additional $2 per hour over their regular rate. The higher wage, which is slated to remain in place for a total of four weeks, is being given to all part-time, full-time, and temporary associates, including new hires and those currently employed at Nino Salvaggio.

Full-time positions are being offered to qualified individuals such as managers, bakers, and chefs. Full-time positions include competitive wages, an excellent benefit package, including medical, dental, vision, 401k, job training, and apprentice programs, tuition reimbursement and flexible spending. Applications can be submitted online here.

Nino’s also is hosting a senior shopping hour from 7-8 a.m. daily at all four stores. The early hour is open to seniors, ages 60 and older, expectant mothers, and others who are immune-compromised for shopping before regular business hours. In addition, Nino Salvaggio has increased cleaning and sanitization at all of its stores.

Online shopping with curbside pickup is available here.

COVID-19 Testing for Detroit’s Homeless
The city of Detroit’s Housing and Revitalization and Health departments are launching COVID-19 testing of any symptomatic homeless person, currently in the shelter system. The tests will be conducted at a designated Salvation Army shelter, with the support of Wayne State University, the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan, and its foundation partner, the DMC Foundation.

This follows efforts by the city to reopen temporary shelters across Detroit this month to better fight the spread of the virus by improving the social distancing that protects public health. The city has reopened two previously closed facilities and repurposed a recreation center to free up a third to better serve homeless persons affected by COVID-19. Two more facilities will be reopened by April 19, adding a total of 500 beds for the city’s homeless since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak. Based on the 2019 point-in-time count, it is estimated that Detroit has about 2,100 people experiencing chronic homelessness, approximately half of which are in shelter. With this increase, the city now will have beds for about 1,600 of them in spaces that allow for social distancing measures.

Hospitals
Henry Ford Health System in Detroit today announced doctors will do follow up appointments for newborns in mobile medical units. At each 30-minute newborn follow up appointment, a pediatrician checks the infant’s weight, does a physical exam, provides counseling, and checks a bilirubin level, if needed. While newborn follow up appointments are typically done at Henry Ford medical centers, clinics at several of the medical centers have been temporarily repurposed and staff have been redeployed. “Newborns are some of the most vulnerable members of our community. By seeing them on our mobile medical unit, they’ll be in an environment that’s separate from where other patient care is taking place, which adds another layer of safety for them,” says Dr. Maureen Connolly, medical director of Henry Ford’s School-Based and Community Health Program.

National COVID-19 Effort
Under the direction of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, FEMA, and HHS are working with state, local, tribal, and territorial governments to execute a whole-of-government response to fight the COVID-19 pandemic and protect the public.

All 50 states, the District of Columbia, five territories, and four tribes are working directly with FEMA under the nationwide emergency declaration for COVID-19. Visit here for more information.

To sell medical supplies or equipment to the federal government, please submit a price quote under the COVID-19 PPE and Medical Supplies Request for Quotation. Full details can be found in the solicitation (Notice ID 70FA2020R00000011).

This solicitation requires registration with the System for Award Management (SAM) in order to be considered for award, pursuant to applicable regulations and guidelines.  Registration information can be found here. Registration must be active at the time of award.

Companies or organization with medical supplies or equipment to donate, should provide the government with details on what they are offering.

A private company that wants to produce a product related to the COVID response should email nbeoc@max.gov.

Hospitals and healthcare providers in need of medical supplies, should contact their state, local, tribal, or territory department of public health and/or emergency management agency.

Companies interested in doing business with FEMA and supporting the response to COVID- 19 with non-medical goods and/or services, should submit their inquiry to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Procurement Action Innovative Response Team (PAIR) team at DHSIndustryLiaison@hq.dhs.gov.

Medical Supplies
Michigan State University in East Lansing is helping local health professionals on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic by making 3-D printed personal protective equipment.

The effort is a collaboration between MSU’s College of Osteopathic Medicine, College of Engineering, College of Natural Science, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the College of Arts and Letters.

“This all stems from the Office of Environmental Health and Safety effort to bring together any and all PPE supplies that were unused in our labs to help out local hospitals,” says Nathan Tykocki, assistant professor of pharmacology and toxicology in the College of Osteopathic Medicine, referring to an email from the MSU office that protects occupational health. “One of the things that was in the email included N95 masks, normal or 3D-printed. I went, ‘Oh, well that’s interesting.’”

With access to a 3-D printer and time at home instead of inside his lab, Tykocki was inspired to act. He learned that while N95 masks can be 3-D printed, they still require a filter component, and their usefulness is not entirely clear. After searching the 3-D printing community online, Tykocki discovered a group in the Czech Republic that made a medical face shield validated by its government. The group’s design has been shared publicly online, providing guidance to people around the world looking to help.

“The nice thing is these shields are reusable — the plastic can be disinfected without harming it in any way — so the shields are by no means a one and done,” Tykocki says.

While the frame of the medical shields can be created with a 3-D printer, they still require other components, including the clear plastic shield itself. Aaron Walworth, laboratory manager in the School of Packaging, had just the thing — a laser cutter to make the clear plastic pieces.

“The pace at which we can cut out the plastic shielding far exceeds that of printing the headband it attaches to,” Walworth said. “It takes less than one minute to cut the shield, compared to several hours to print the headband. I’m currently able to lay out 12 shields to cut at a time on our CAD cutting table.”

According to Tykocki, his consumer-grade 3-D printer is capable of making 10 frames a day. To increase that rate, other machines on campus were enlisted.

A final and crucial component needed for medical face shields is the elastic strap. Enter the Department of Theatre in the College of Arts and Letters. When Tykocki shared the need with his wife, Abigail Tykocki, theatre communications specialist in the college, she suggested reaching out to the MSU Costume Shop for the material.

“We had a ton of elastic, because we buy stock to keep for whenever we need it,” says Angie Wendelberger, the costume shop supervisor. “I had four industrial rolls of elastic just hanging there that no one really could use, so we talked to our chair, Kirk Domer, to see if it was okay to use it. He said it was a good project and we should be collaborative, so he gave us the go-ahead.”

In just one week, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has collected tens of thousands of masks, gloves, and other pieces of protective gear from the community to keep front-line health workers at Michigan Medicine safe while they treat an ever-rising number of patients with COVID-19.

Now, the donation drive will take on an added dimension, to address food insecurity and other basic needs, serving community members affected financially by coronavirus-related closures.

Starting today, the donation site at Dock 90 of 2800 Plymouth Rd. in Ann Arbor will begin accepting nonperishable food and toiletries from the community. These will be given to Food Gatherers, which will distribute them to more than 100 local nonprofit organizations that serve community members in need.

Donations of protective gear, food, and toiletries will be accepted from noon to 5 p.m. weekdays and Saturdays. Donation drive staff wear protective gear.

For more information on COVID-19 response at Michigan Medicine, visit here.

Health Insurance
As the COVID-19 outbreak continues, Priority Health in Grand Rapids is offering additional virtual resources to support members and employers. The company has added an Employer Decision Guide that outlines options for helping employees maintain health coverage, along with a new COVID-19 screening bot that helps the user determine their risk level and offers resources based on their individual result. These materials are available here.

Throughout the crisis, Priority Health also has said it is covering the cost of physician-ordered COVID-19 testing and labs for all members, offering free telehealth, expanding home medication delivery through partnerships with CVS, Meijer, and Walgreens, and providing various educational resources to the public, and Priority Health members and employees.

Restaurants
The second Great American Takeout, an effort to have consumers order one or more take out/delivery meals, takes place today to help restaurants during COVID-19. The first event took place last week and generated 50,000 social posts and raised $100,000 for Core Gives, a national 501c3 supporting children of food and beverage service employees, so important given COVID-19’s devastating impact on the hospitality industry.

Social Media
The Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau (DMCVB) has created a COVID-19 Tourism and Hospitality Resources Facebook Group to make sure that members of the metro Detroit tourism and hospitality community are up to date with the latest local information and resources available. By sharing job opportunities, safety and health practices, online educational sessions, and more, the page aims to be a source for the community at large. The group can be found here.

Charitable Activities
The DTE Energy Foundation, the philanthropic arm of DTE Energy, today announced that it will match all donations to the Michigan Association of United Ways and Michigan Community Action now through Thursday, April 16. The non-profits are focused on helping individuals, families, and communities weather the COVID-19 crisis by supplying food, shelter, and other basic needs. Donations can be allocated to particular United Way chapters and community action agencies to address emergency needs of a particular community. The foundation will match individual donations up to $5,000 per person.

The DTE Foundation already has funded 1 million meals and provided basic needs for more than 100,000 families. In cooperation with other organizations, the foundation is shoring up 200 small businesses. The matching gifts program is just one component of the foundation’s comprehensive COVID-19 response.

“This is a crisis unlike any we’ve seen in our generation and the demands on nonprofits across the state are unprecedented,” says Jerry Norcia, president and CEO of DTE Energy. “We understand that not everyone is able to donate during this time; but for those who are, we want to double the impact of their contribution. The DTE Foundation has been there for the people of Michigan for decades, and we’ll be here during these difficult times to help our great state weather this crisis.”

Matrix Human Services is collecting soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hand sanitizers, wipes, disinfecting spray, cleaning supplies, paper towel, tissue, and other essentials for Detroit families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Families also need diapers, art supplies, outdoor play items like chalk and bubbles, cereal, thermometers, nebulizers, and more. Please drop off donations at 1400 Woodbridge in Detroit today and tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Monetary donations also are being accepted here.

Local clothing company Detroit Hustles Harder is teaming up with artists, brands, and small businesses to raise money to help those directly affected by the impacts of COVID-19. Hustle for a Cause challenges local artists, brands, and small businesses to create exclusive collaborative pieces which will be sold online to help raise money for those directly impacted by COVID-19. The collection will be available starting April 4. Visit here for more information.

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