In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, medical staff across the United States lack enough crucial supplies necessary to protect themselves against infection. Earlier this week, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk delivered a batch of much-needed face masks and ventilators to hospitals facing a shortage.
Now he wants to expand those efforts to other aspects of personal protective equipment, or PPE. According to an internal SpaceX memo, obtained by CNBC, Musk has directed his employees to start producing face masks, and hand sanitizer. The supplies will be donated to organizations in need.
Hospital staff are overwhelmed with the rising number of cases, and simply do not have enough gear to properly protect themselves. As a result, many have posted pleas on social media asking for the public’s help using the hashtags #getmeppe or #getusppe. The most crucial items needed are face masks, disinfectant, sanitizer, gloves, gowns, as well as glasses and face shields.
#GetMePPE This is my one N95 mask. I have been instructed to preserve it for up to 30 days by covering it with regular surgical masks which are also on critical shortage. The supply chain should not have crumbled. Our patients deserve better! We deserve better! pic.twitter.com/5FqFs5lytm
— Leah Tatebe (@LeahTatebe) March 18, 2020
Retailers like JoAnn’s fabrics have even joined the cause, instructing sewing aficionados to drop off any masks they can make. The store will deliver them to local hospitals. Ford, GM, and Tesla have already received government approval to make ventilators in their factories.
In that same vein, SpaceX employees were told over the weekend that so far, the aerospace company has manufactured and delivered 75 face shields, and donated 100 protective suits to the staff at Cedar Sinai hospital. But that’s not all; the company wants to ramp up donations and begin to produce hand sanitizer that will be CDC compliant and effective against the SARS-Cov-2 virus.
Addressing #COVID19 is a group effort. We are grateful for the discussion with @ElonMusk and @Tesla as we work across industries to solve problems and get patients and hospitals the tools they need to continue saving lives. We're all in this together. https://t.co/MdZ3u8k2nR
— Medtronic (@Medtronic) March 21, 2020
Recently, Donald Trump signed into law a Defense Production Act, allowing factories to make much needed medical supplies. The 70-year-old law, established in 1950, enables the president to order private industry to produce crucial equipment and supplies in an emergency, like the current pandemic.
In addition to the supply shortage, the country is also facing a blood shortage. And SpaceX is here to help with that as well. The company plans to host a blood drive at the American Red Cross in Hawthorne later this week, which is where SpaceX is headquartered at.