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Tuesday, 19 May 2020 18:37

CA Businesses Shift Operations to Help Combat COVID-19

Written by Sonia Waraich, Times-Standard
Face shields sit on a work table at auto shop Quality Body Works in Eureka, CA. The auto shop, like other local businesses, has shifted operations to help meet demand for supplies needed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Face shields sit on a work table at auto shop Quality Body Works in Eureka, CA. The auto shop, like other local businesses, has shifted operations to help meet demand for supplies needed to curb the spread of COVID-19. Courtesy of Quality Body Works

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Right before the statewide shelter-in-place went into effect on a Friday in mid-March, John Nicolini was wondering what he could do as an entrepreneur to help the community deal with the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe.

He said the idea of shifting some of his business operations came to him when he heard about Safeways around the country installing sneeze guards at their checkstands.

 

“We do plastic fabrication,” said Nicolini, president of CPR Aquatic Inc., in Samoa, CA, which usually manufactures aquariums. “I thought that’s right up our alley.”

 

Since then, CPR Aquatic has designed and installed plastic barriers for essential businesses like Wildberries Market and Redwood Capital Bank and businesses that are trying to reopen, such as retailer Belle Starr.

 

“The floodgates opened and we’re just outfitting it seems like everyone in Humboldt County,” Nicolini said. “And now we’re getting calls nationwide.”

 

As the coronavirus has spread across the world, new demand has burgeoned for products that were once unnecessary for living daily life but have since become essential, and local businesses have shifted operations to meet that demand.

 

“I’m just really proud of all the other local companies that shifted gears and started helping out with pandemic scare,” Nicolini said.

 

Alchemy Construction has also been helping businesses install plastic barriers.

 

Distilleries like Alchemy Distillery and Humboldt Distillery have diverted some of the alcohol for their spirits to go toward making hand sanitizer.

 

Auto body shop Quality Body Works and jewelry maker Holly Yashi have shifted their operations to make face shields for the local community.

 

Several of the businesses said they’re prioritizing first responders and the hospitals.

 

In addition to making sneeze guards, for instance, CPR Aquatic also made intubation boxes for St. Joseph Hospital in Eureka and Redwood Memorial Hospital in Fortuna, Nicolini said. Those boxes protect healthcare workers while they are intubating a patient, who might let out virus-laden aerosol in the process, he said.

 

Nicolini said he’s not taking advantage of the situation by price gouging because that would hurt local business, but producing the protective barriers has helped him rehire two employees since the shutdown began.


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