Face shields, masks, and other personal protective equipment have been in short supply due to the high number of coronavirus cases and huge global demand. Manufacturers have been working non-stop to increase production, but supply remains limited. To support the supply chain, various companies in different industries are stepping in to support the development of medical equipment and other essential provisions.
Apple, one of the world’s largest technology companies, has directed substantial resources to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among a number of initiatives, Apple will manufacture 1 million face shields per week for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.
According to Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, Apple’s face shield design can fit 100 pieces in a box, and can be assembled quickly.
Cook posted a video announcing the plan to ramp up the supply chain of face shields on Twitter. “We’ve launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, and our suppliers to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers,” he said.
“Our first shipment was delivered to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara Valley this past week and the feedback from doctors was very positive.”
The company has also donated N95 masks totaling 20 million to governments and hospitals around the world. Cook stated, “Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. We’ve now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain.”
The shortage of personal protective equipment puts medical workers and other personnel on the front lines increasingly at risk during the coronavirus outbreak. Apple and many other national and global firms have modified their production lines to meet demand for protective gear, ventilators, intubation boxes and booths, and other equipment necessary to treat coronavirus patients.
Various organizations are also mobilizing critical equipment for states grappling with the pandemic. Initial distribution of Apple-produced face shields will focus on the US, but may quickly expand to distribution in other countries in dire need of protective gear.
The change in the company supply chain to produce medical equipment is just part of Apple’s massive contribution to the global COVID-19 response. In a statement on March 13, Apple stated that donations to coronavirus measures had reached $15 million worldwide.
The amount has been directed to various efforts, including providing protection for the vulnerable, studying the virus, treating COVID-19 patients, and helping to cushion economic and community impacts from the pandemic. The company is also matching employee donations, two to one, to support COVID-19 response efforts locally, nationally and internationally.
Apple also collaborated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to provide easy access to information on the coronavirus. Cook said, “To help you stay informed, understand symptoms and take proper steps to protect your health, Apple has created a COVID-19 website and a US app in partnership with the CDC. As always, the data is yours and your privacy is protected. Stay safe and healthy.”
To support online education, Apple supported teachers with virtual coaching and collections of helpful apps and books to enable remote learning.
Apple also helped launch America’s Food Fund and contributed to an extraordinary gift worth $12 million to help feed vulnerable populations reeling from the impacts of COVID-19, including children who depend on school lunch programs, low-income families, and the elderly.
Apple’s corporate employees in California are currently working from home due to the coronavirus outbreak, but company efforts are working overtime to sustain the supply chain focused on protective equipment and gear to supply the needs of the US and hard hit nations across the world.
Watch Cook’s video below announcing Apple’s plan to produce millions of face shields for COVID-19 responders.
Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. We’ve now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain. Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and ship face shields for medical workers. pic.twitter.com/3xRqNgMThX
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 5, 2020