DETROIT – Health care workers and first responders are experiencing a shortage of personal protective equipment in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles announced Monday that the company will make more than 1 million face masks, which will be donated to police, EMTs, firefighters, and hospital and clinic workers.
The automaker said the masks will go to the people and facilities that need them the most by working with national, regional and city authorities to determine where the masks are needed.
“Protecting our first responders and health care workers has never been more important. In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the health care industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks.," said Mike Manley, FCA CEO. "We’ve marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic.”
Automakers have offered assistance beyond vehicles since the pandemic hit the United States.
GM has already been working with Ventec, a medical device company, and StopTheSpread.org to assist with increasing ventilator production.
Other Michigan companies are also stepping up to help make products outside of their normal items. On Friday, breweries and distillers were authorized to make hand sanitizer with denatured alcohol, a byproduct of the brewing process.
How COVID-19 Spreads
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
- Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
- Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
Can someone spread the virus without being sick?
- Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.
Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects
It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.
How easily the virus spreads
How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.
Prevention & Treatment
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.
Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.