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Combating the coronavirus: Automakers, fashion companies, others make ventilators and medical supplies

Sarah Paynter
Reporter

This is a developing story, please check back for updates.

In the wake of the global novel coronavirus pandemic, common medical supplies like ventilators, medical masks, hospital gowns and hand sanitizer have become scarce — and manufacturers of such supplies cannot keep up. 

So, manufacturers from fashion to autos have turned to making medical supplies to help combat COVID-19.

Here is an up-to-date list of major manufactures that are re-directing their resources to produce COVID-19 medical supplies., organized by their respective industries:

Car manufacturers

Many carmakers have answered the call for ventilator production as well as masks and other supplies. BUt there are some question the feasibility of retooling car factories for ventilator production.

“We are considering using our 3D capabilities to help with the production of medical equipment, however, we are not quite there yet,” a Volkswagen spokeswoman told Yahoo Finance UK. “We are still investigating what exactly is needed and if that's really feasible.”

But most car manufacturers are moving forward with plans to make ventilators as well as masks.

Kia Motors

Kia Motors, the South Korean car company, will produce 200,000 face shields at their manufacturing branch in West Point, Ga., the company announced April 20.

Exor

Exor, the Amsterdam-based owner of Ferrari and Fiat Chrysler, is in talks to assist Bologna-based Siare Engineering, as they ramp up ventilator production from 160 units to 500 a month. In addition to manufacturing operations, car manufacturers have access to plastic, metal, and electronic supplies. Ferrari, the Italy-based luxury car maker, has sent specialized personnel to assist Siare, but they are also planning to manufacture ventilator parts in-house at its Maranello headquarters. They will be joined by Fiat Chrysler, according to reports, which also plans to make 1 million face masks a month for medical workers.

Italian car parts maker Magneti Marelli, previously owned by Exor, makes car parts for Volkswagen, PSA and Fiat Chrysler. It suspended production at most European plants from March 13 to March 27 due to COVID-19, but reportedly may reopen plants sooner since they are also in talks with Siare to assist with ventilator production. 

Ferrari

Milan-based luxury car manufacturer Ferrari is converting snorkel masks into respirators, Chairman John Elkann said April 16. The company has already begun to deliver the respirators, which are partially 3D printed, to hospitals in Italy.

Ford

Michigan-based Ford will manufacture 50,000 ventilators in 100 days, in collaborating with Boston-based General Electric Healthcare, the company announced March 30.

It is also producing Powered Air-Purifying Respirators in partnership with 3M, based in Minnesota. Ford’s seat fans from its F-150 pickup truck will be used as part of a new design for ventilators. Ford will also assist ventilator production in the UK.

Ford will also 3D print an anticipated 100,000 face shields per week. The company has started delivering “tens of thousands” of Ford-produced face shields to hospitals and police agencies, including the NYPD, Ford said in a statement Friday.

General Motors

General Motors and Ventec Life Systems said they will build ventilators at the carmaker’s parts plant in Indiana. The Michigan-based car maker is donating resources at cost and will deploy about 1,000 American workers to produce the ventilators, the company said in a statement.

In an employee-led initiative, GM will begin medical mask production, ramping up to 50,000 masks per day with the potential to double that capacity, the company said in an email on Friday.

Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on March 31 that it has extra FDA-approved ventilators the company would ship for free to hospitals.

“Device & shipping cost are free. Only requirement is that the vents are needed immediately for patients, not stored in a warehouse. Please me or @Tesla know," Musk said in a tweet.

On March 20, Tesla purchased over 1,255 ventilators from China and donated them to Los Angeles hospitals. Tesla is also donating “hundreds of ventilators” to New York City and state, including public hospitals.

This comes after Musk tweeted on March 18 that Tesla would make ventilators “if there is a shortage.” New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio responded by saying New York had a shortage, to which Musk said they would engage in talks.

Toyota

Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor Corp.’s North American unit will help two companies increase production of ventilators and respirators, the company said on Friday.

Toyota will also begin producing 3D printed face shields the week of March 30, the company announced on Friday. The first batch will go to hospitals in Houston, Dallas, Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan, Toyota said. The company is also looking for partners to produce COVID-19 mask filters, Toyota said.

Amy Setchell, at right, program director of the respiratory therapy program at Madison Area Technical College, and Chris Becker, director of clinical education of the respiratory therapy program at MATC, load ventilators, that the school is lending due to coronavirus to SSM Health, along with other area hospitals, into a truck outside the college's Health Education Building in Madison, Wis., Tuesday, March 24, 2020. (Amber Arnold/Wisconsin State Journal via AP)

Renault

Renault, the French car maker, is using its 3D printers to make medical visors for health workers in Spain. The company hopes to expand its efforts to make ventilator parts.

Fashion and apparel makers

Ballroom dancers and dressmakers

A ballroom dancer, a health care CEO and 14 ballroom dressmakers have partnered to produce 1 million masks in wha† they are calling “Million Mask MOVEment.”

Tony Dovolani, the professional ballroom dancer known for his appearances in “Dancing with the Stars,” has commissioned 14 ballroom dressmakers and seamstresses at Dore Designs in Florida, Dance America in Florida and Creative Canopy in San Francisco to produce medical-grade masks. The seamstresses are working six days a week to produce and ship masks.

“I thought about all these seamstresses that are not working because people currently don’t need gowns for competitions. I thought if we could combine forces, we could really make a difference,” said Lyndean Brick, president and CEO of health care consulting firm Advis, Inc., who initiated the project in partnership with Chicago’s Fred Astaire Dance Studios.

Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers, the New York-based fashion retailer, will produce gowns and up to 150,000 masks daily.

"We consider this a duty, and part of our DNA at Brooks Brothers," said Chief Executive Officer Claudio Del Vecchio. 

Burberry

Burberry, the London-based fashion company, is repurposing its trench coat factor in Yorkshire to make non-surgical gowns and masks, the company said in an Instagram post on March 28.

Canada Goose

Canada Goose, the Toronto-based parka maker, will begin producing 10,000 scrubs and patient gowns. About 100 employees at two factories will help create the scrubs and gowns for donation to local hospitals.

“Now is the time to put our manufacturing resources and capabilities to work for the greater good,” Canada Goose’s CEO Dani Reiss said in a statement.

Christian Siriano

Fashion designer Christian Siriano, whose designs are seen in Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s and other retailers, has offered his sewing team to make medical masks in New York. Sirano has already produced a prototype, but he plans to make several versions to fit people with varying needs. 

Eileen Fisher

Eileen Fisher, the New York-based clothing retailer, announced March 25 that they would produce gowns, masks and other medical gear, in partnership with Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and the New York City Economic Development Corp.

Gap

Gap, Inc., the San Francisco-based owner of Gap, Old Navy, Athleta, Banana Republic and others will make masks, gowns and scrubs at its partner factories. They plan to deliver millions of PPEs (personal protective equipment) in California, the company announced March 24.

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani, the Milan-based fashion company, will dedicate all its Italian production plants to the production of single-use medical overalls, the company announced on Instagram on March 30. The company also plans to begin making millions of protective face masks.

H&M

H&M, the Stockholm-based fashion retailer, will produce and deliver 1 million protective aprons to the Swedish health care system over the next two weeks, the company said April 15.

HanesBrands

President Trump announced Saturday that the Hanes clothing company will be retrofitting its factories and working with the government to make N95 masks for health care professionals.

The Kering Group

The Kering Group, the French owner of Gucci, Laint Laurent, Bottegna Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen and Brioni, will begin manufacturing mask, according to an Instagram post on March 24.

Lafayette 148 New York

Fashion company Lafayette 148 New York, based in New York City, is partnering with the Economic Development Corporation and the Brooklyn Navy Yard to produce surgical gowns. Manufacturing will begin as soon as the prototype is approved, according to a company representative.

Los Angeles Apparel

Los Angeles Apparel, the LA clothing manufacturer, aims to produce 300,000 medical masks and 50,000 hospital gowns per week, free to Los Angeles hospitals or available for purchase to consumers, according to reports.

L’Oréal

L’Oréal, the France-based cosmetics company, has re-tooled its production facilities to create hand sanitizer and hydroalcoholic gel for French and European health authorities, French pharmacies and European food distributors.

“In this unprecedented crisis, it is our responsibility to contribute to the collective effort in every way possible. Through these actions, L’Oréal expresses our recognition, our support and our solidarity towards those who are demonstrating extraordinary courage and selflessness in their efforts to combat this pandemic,” said Jean-Paul Agon, L’Oréal chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.

LVMH 

Paris-based LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton and Dior, announced it will use the company’s French perfume factories to produce hand sanitizer that the company will donate to health authorities, LVMH announced Sunday.

“LVMH will continue to honour this commitment for as long as necessary," the company said in a statement

Ministry of Supply

MIT-founded apparel brand Ministry of Supply has started producing 3D print-knit, washable masks with filter pockets. Each mask can be produced in less than 9 minutes, and the company has already produced several thousand for donation to medical professionals.

Prada

Prada, the Milan-based fashion company, will produce 80,000 medical overalls and 110,000 masks by April 6, the company announced on March 23.

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren, the New York-based fashion company, will make 250,000 masks and 25,000 isolation medical gowns in the U.S.

“As we move through this challenging time, we are focused on continuing to be the beacon of optimism and unity that Ralph Lauren and our brands have always been,” said president and CEO Patrice Louvet.

Vera Bradley

Vera Bradley, the Fort Wayne, Ind.-based handbag and accessories maker, has converted its sewing operations in its Fort Wayne, Ind. to produce masks, scrubs and other protective equipment using the brand’s unique patterned fabric. The company will also make their health care line, VB Healthcare, available on VeraBradley.com at a discount, a representative said in an email.

Vera Bradley-produced mask. Photo provided by Vera Bradley.

Zara

Inditex, the Spain-based owner of fashion retailer Zara, has turned over production to the production of protective gowns. Previously, the company also produced surgical masks. The company said it has already donated 10,000 masks and expects to deliver 300,000 additional masks by the end of the week. Zara representatives said that they are actively sourcing medical-grade fabric for hospital gowns. 

Athletic companies

Bauer

Bauer Hockey, the N.H.-based hockey equipment manufacturer, plans to produce 10,000 masks per week, in partnership with Massachusettes-based Sparx Hockey. The company will sell masks at-cost.

Fanatics

Fanatics, the Fla.-based maker of major sports leagues apparel, has about 100 employees working at its Easton, Penn. factory to make medical masks and gowns. The factory usually produces MLB jerseys. Fantastics and MLB are paying for the production of medical supplies.

New Balance

New Balance, the Mass.-based athletic apparel company, is re-tooling its Lawrence, Mass. factory and a “portion of its workforce” to produce face mask prototypes. The company plans to use its other New England factories for production once plans are finalized.

Nike

Nike, the Oregon-based athletic apparel company, has partnered with Oregon Health & Science University to produce 130,000 face shields and other PPE as of April 20. They have been donated to over hospitals, according to a spokesperson.

Under Armour

The Baltimore-based sports company Under Armour will partner with the University of Maryland to create at least 1,000 face shields, 500,000 masks and thousands of hospital gowns for local hospitals.

“Employee volunteers” are also filling 50,000 fanny packs with medical supplies for distribution.

Distilleries and breweries

Breweries and distilleries in the U.S., Canada, the UK, Sweden, Australia and other locations have begun producing hand sanitizer by mixing pure alcohol with glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, as the novel coronavirus prompts global shortages in hospitals and pharmacies. 

In the U.S., the FDA announced it would relax hand sanitizer rules on March 20, although companies complain that FDA rules on denaturing alcohol are slowing down production. The UK announced March 18 that it would fast-track applications from companies to make denatured alcohol for sanitizing. Canada also agreed to lift some rules on hand sanitizer, disinfectant and equipment sales, said a statement by Health Canada

Anheuser-Busch

Brussels’ Anheuser-Busch, the world’s largest brewer, has produced 26,000 bottles of 250-milliliter hand sanitizer bottles, for donation to pharmacies and health care workers. The company is also donating alcohol that has been removed from its alcohol-free beers, in the amount of some 50,000 liters. Alcohol will go to hospitals in Belgium, Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Bacardi

Bacardi, the Puerto Rico-based spirits maker, is partnering with a local refinery to produce 1.7 million units of 10-oz. hand sanitizer for donation to local communities, USPS workers, firefighters, police and Va.-based nonprofit United Way.

Brown-Forman

Brown-Forman, the Ky.-based maker of Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve and other spirits, has produced and distributed over 6,000 bottles of hand sanitizer to local hospitals.

Molson Coors

Molson Coors, the Denver-based brewer, is producing hand sanitizer at multiple breweries.

“I am... proud of how our teams are stepping up to take care of our communities who need our help more than ever,” said president and CEO Gavin Hattersley.

Pernod Ricard

Pernod Ricard, the Paris-based spirits and wine company that makes Absolut vodka and Jameson whiskey, said it will manufacture hand sanitizer at U.S. factories for donation. They will also manufacture hand sanitizer in Sweden, Ireland and Sapin. Additionally, the company will donate 70,000 liters of alcohol to laboratories manufacturing hand sanitizer for donation, the company announced March 18.

“By sharing our resources and making our production facilities available wherever they are needed, we are supporting our fellow citizens and local authorities. I would like to thank our employees who have worked hard to make everything possible in record time, all over the world,” said Alexandre Ricard, chairman and chief executive officer of Pernod Ricard in a statement.

Sazerac Co.

Sazerac Co., the La.-based maker of Fireball Cinnamon Whisky, began production of hand sanitizer in Kentucky on March 27. The company aims to produce at least 5 million bottles of hand sanitizer in 10 plants across the U.S.

“We have seen the great need for hand sanitizer from industries across the board – many of these organizations are desperate, as supplies have dwindled,” said Matt Maimone, Sazerac’s chief operating officer.

Smaller distilleries

Even smaller distilleries are beginning production. Brooklyn’s Greenhook Ginsmiths in New York City, in partnership with Brooklyn bottled cocktail maker St. Agrestis Spirits, already has orders for 4,200 gallons-worth of hand sanitizer. Some distilleries are donating hand sanitizer, while others are asking for a small donation, according to reports.

One Canadian company, Dixon’s Distilled Spirits, has donated 3,000 bottles of sanitizer to local police, health workers and care homes. And a Toronto-based distillery, Spirit of York Distillery, began selling hand sanitizer for C$3 on March 19. It offers it for free to seniors or those who can’t afford it. Proceeds from the sale of the hand sanitizer will go to a local food bank, the company said

In Switzerland, the Morand Distillery, maker of pear schnapps “Poire Williams,” has also pivoted to hand sanitizer production.

Aircraft companies

Airbus

The aircraft manufacturer is planning to 3D print ventilator parts. 

Boeing

Boeing, the Chicago-based manufacturer of aircraft and other equipment, has produced and delivered 3D printed, reusable face shields to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the company announced April 10.

Virgin Orbit

Virgin Orbit, billionaire Richard Branson’s Long Beach, Calif.-based rocket company, plans to produce hundreds of thousands of ventilators per week, pending FDA approval.

“With the looming COVID-19 crisis, we reached out to Governor Newsom and asked what can we do to help,” said Dan Hat, CEO of Virgin Orbit.

Other companies

Room & Board

Room & Board, the Minneapolis-based furniture company, has leveraged its network of manufacturing partners to produce face shields, gowns, protective masks and separation barriers.

Partners include Dallas-based American Leather, North Carolina-based Precedent Furniture, Sommerville bedding manufacturers, plastic hook makers and others.

Lego

Lego, the Denmark-based toy company, is producing over 13,000 face visors per day using some of its molding machines at its Billund, Denmark manufacturing facility.

“We are so incredibly proud of the team who made this happen. They worked around the clock to create designs and make moulds that can produce more than 13,000 visors a day,” the company said on Instagram.

David’s Bridal and Joann Fabrics

David’s Bridal, the Pennsylvania-based wedding apparel retailer, is partnering with Joann Fabrics to produce 50,000 face masks. Alterations teams at their 258 store locations will use Joann-donated materials for production.

For Americans sewing from home, Joann Fabrics, the Ohio-based fabric and craft retailer, has offered sewing patterns for homemade masks. So far, volunteers have made almost 60 million masks.

Some 53 million of these masks were made with fabric purchased from Joann Fabrics by consumers, while 7 million masks were made of material donated by the company’s Make to Give program, which provides free fabric, elastic and other necessary materials to customers willing to make homemade masks for donation to hospitals. The company offers curbside pickup of its mask-making kits, with enough materials for five masks.

Additionally, where CDC-recommended and local guidelines allow, Joann Fabrics allows customers to use in-store sewing machines, materials and guidance for mask-making.

Dyson

Dyson, the UK-based vacuum and hand-dryer maker, has invented the CoVent, a new ventilator that incorporated Dyson’s digital motor. The ventilator can run on battery power, adding portability to its design.

The UK government has already ordered 10,000 CoVent ventilators, and Dyson has offered to donate an additional 5,000 globally.

“The device is designed to achieve a high quality air supply to ensure its safety and effectiveness, drawing on our air purifier expertise which delivers high-quality filtration in high-volume products,” said founder James Dyson.

Foxconn

Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer of most Apple iPhones, will begin making ventilators at its Wisconsin plant. Further details have not yet been announced.

Ikea

Ikea, the Netherlands-based furniture retailer, started producing protective gear, including masks and aprons, for hospitals, the company said on Tuesday.

Leesa

Leesa, the Va.-based mattress company, has designed a simplified seven-inch mattress specifically for hospital use. The company is shipping 1,000 units per day directly to hospitals.

“These are unprecedented times,” Leesa CEO John Replogle said on Yahoo Finance’s The Ticker. “The demand for hospital equipment is going through the roof, and as a mattress company, we decided we can do something about this.”

My Pillow

My Pillow, the Minnesota-based pillow company, has dedicated 75% of its manufacturing capacity to produce cotton face masks. The company is currently producing 10,000 masks daily, with plans to scale up to 50,000 masks daily by April 3.

Procter & Gamble

Procter & Gamble, the Cincinnati-based consumer goods manufacturer, will manufacture 10 million face masks a month in the U.S., China, Europe and Africa.

SmileDirectClub

The teledentistry company will use its 3D printers to produce respirator valves, as well as medical masks. “Reports of medical supply shortages are very concerning and we have the production capacity to help in the printing of plastic materials. Due to recent automations that increased our printing output capacity, we’re able to easily add this production to our current clear aligner therapy lines,” said SmileDirectClub chief executive officer David Katzman in a statement

Superfeet

A Washington-based custom-insole shoe maker, is 3D printing medical supplies, the company announced March 24.

Xerox

Xerox, the Connecticut-based office solutions company, plans to produce 140,000 gallons of hand sanitizer in its U.S. and Canadian factories by June. Deliveries to health care organizations will begin before May, the company announced April 21.

Xerox is also partnering with Sacramento-based Vortran Medical Technology to produce 1 million ventilators, Xerox announced April 6.

This article, originally published on March 27, 2020, will continue to be updated as companies announce plans to manufacture medical supplies during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sarah Paynter is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @sarahapaynter

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