600+ Companies Now Make PPE For Mass. Frontline Workers

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Hundreds of companies are pivoting their operations to make personal protective equipment for the state's frontline workers and first responders during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to Gov. Charlie Baker, despite the state's early struggles to secure PPE, businesses from firearm manufacturers to greeting card makers have been stepping up to fill the void.

Gov. Baker toured a Hasbro partner's manufacturing facility in East Longmeadow on Saturday, and spoke about the toy company's efforts to pitch in by making face shields.

"We've spoken over the course of the past few weeks about the challenges we've faced trying to get PPE into the hands of our frontline healthcare workers and emergency first responders," said Baker. "Today we had the opportunity... to tour Hasbro's games manufacturing facility to see how they've adjusted their day-to-day operations to support the fight against COVID-19."

Gov. Baker said Hasbro has "reconverted some of their operations," creating the space to manufacture gear to support the state's frontline workers. On Friday, Hasbro also donated 250 face shields to the Holyoke Soldiers' Home for staff and caregivers.

"It's no secret, for years Hasbro has provided families with lifelong entertainment and joy," said Baker. "Now, they're providing 50,000 face shields every week to local area hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. This incredibly generous donation will save lives and will protect our healthcare workers."

According to Gov. Baker, Hasbro is one of more than 600 companies now working with Massachusetts and turning production operations to produce PPE, and 400 of those businesses are based in Massachusetts.

Last week, Baker announced new initiative of more than $10 million in funding to support manufacturers' efforts to switch operations around to help the state secure PPE and medical equipment like ventilators and thermometers. He said the companies that have signed up so far "run the gamut."

Firearm manufacturer Smith and Wesson is now making face shields and donating them to the city of Springfield, where the company is headquartered. 99 Degrees in Lawrence, which was making exercise apparel, is now making medical gowns.

Gillette and Proctor & Gamble in Boston now produce face shields, and greeting card company Lovepop is now producing masks, gowns, and shoe coverings. Boyd Technologies in Lee is making face shields and 3D printing packages for nasal swabs.

Holyoke-based companies are pitching in too. Hazen Paper Company is now making hand sanitizer, and Universal Plastics is making face shields and acrylic intubation boxes.

Baker said companies can still apply for grants for equipment, materials, supplies, workforce training, and other needs, through an online form. Learn more here.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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