Ford will collaborate with 3M in making Powered Air-Purifying Respirators or PAPRs to help in the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic, the automaker announced Tuesday. The announcement came as the World Health Organization warns that the United States could be the next epicenter of the outbreak. New York City, at the same time, is also believed to be shaping up as epicenter in the nation.
Ford and 3M are utilizing car parts to make the PAPRs. For instance, they are using Ford F-150's fans used for ventilated seats. At the same time, 3M HEPA air filters are being used to purify airborne contaminants. Other components include battery packs to make the PAPRs work for up to eight hours. Manufacturing of the PAPRs may happen in Ford's Michigan plant.
Ford is also working with GE Healthcare to come up with simplified version of ventilators to speedy deployment in hospitals for COVID-19 patients who are already suffering from respiratory failure.
The automaker is also partnering with the UAW in assembling more than 100,000 plastic face shields. Aside from that, Ford will be utilizing is in-house 3D printing facilities for faster production of the protective equipment. The full-face shields are for medical workers and first responders.
The first 1,000 of the plastic face shields will be tested anytime this week at Detroit Mercy, Henry Ford Health Systems, and Detroit Medical Center Sinai-Grace Hospitals. UAW and Ford are hoping to distribute 75,000 face shields this week. Moving along, they are aiming to distribute more than 100,000 face shields per week.
In China, Ford said it entered a joint venture partner with Jiangling Motors. Under the JV, Ford donated 10 transit ambulance vans to Wuhan hospitals. The automaker in return is acquiring 165,000 N05 respirators from the Asian country that has been successful in reversing the trend of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this week, GM and Tesla were the first to announce similar initiatives in its pledge to help with the fight against the outbreak. GM and Tesla are both working on ventilators needed in assisting COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms.
For its part, the Food and Drug Administration said it is relaxing barriers with regard to giving the green light to the medical device.
On Tuesday, reports were in that US President Donald Trump has secretly asked help from several nations that have shown successful measures in fighting the outbreak. The president has reportedly sought out help from South Korea, among others, to course through medical supplies into the country. The step contradicts the president's claim that the country is well-prepared to handle the pandemic.