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Thursday, 10 September 2020 16:10

GM, Ford Shutting Down the ‘Arsenal of Health’

Written by Paul A. Eisenstein, The Detroit Bureau
Ford produced the last of its contracted 50,000 face masks Aug. 28 and wrapped up all pandemic-related production the following week. Ford produced the last of its contracted 50,000 face masks Aug. 28 and wrapped up all pandemic-related production the following week.

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The move by the two manufacturers reminded some of how the domestic auto industry stepped in during World War II to produce guns, Jeeps, bombers and other supplies, earning the nickname, “the Arsenal of Democracy.”

 

While they have ended producing ventilators, which are meant to assist the most severely ill patients breathe, Ford and GM say they aren’t completely stepping away from the needs created by the pandemic.

 

The bigger of the two on Sept. 1 announced it would donate 2 million face masks to Michigan public schools to help students return to classrooms. Production will wrap up at the end of this month.

 

For its part, Ford spokesperson Rachel McCleery said the automaker “will continue to look for ways to address the needs of our communities and workforce as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.”

 

When the pandemic first hit there were reports of severe shortages of supplies such as masks and ventilators, especially in hard-hit communities like New York City and Detroit. That led to unnecessary deaths of not only patients but medical practitioners who, in many cases, had to make do with bandanas and scarves rather than medical-grade masks and other gear.

 

The equipment GM supplied proved to be “valuable tools enabling our medical team to save lives. I’m proud to say we have had many patients beat COVID-19, wean off the ventilator and safely return home,” said Dr. Suzanne Pham, of Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

 

For now, those in charge of the federal stockpile say there are more than enough ventilators and other PPE to handle the current rate of infections. But the coronavirus has proven incredibly difficult to stamp out and the number of reported cases has begun to surge again, leading some experts to fear that things could get worse as cold weather settles in over the coming weeks and months.

 

We thank The Detroit Bureau for reprint permission.


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