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Missouri Manufacturers Hard at Work in Fight Against COVID-19

Like any maker, designer, tinkerer or DIY-er, David Cervantes, owner of St. Louis, Missouri-based Cervantes Design, is used to being in near-constant action. A few weeks ago, while scrolling through DIY threads on Reddit, the designer was struck with a call to action. Aware of the shortage of personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders, he realized that he and his colleagues were better positioned than most to step in and fill the void.

“The maker in me – all makers and tinkerers have it – feels that if I have the capacity and capability to do something, I am driven to do it,” said Cervantes. “Being idle goes against makers. A lot of us out there are going bonkers in our wood shops. Artists are out there in their garages painting up a storm. If we can help, we want to.”

Inspired to help in the fight against COVID-19, Cervantes went to his 3-D printer and made a plastic face shield that could serve as a first line of defense for healthcare workers. It was barely off the presses when he put out a call to his fellow St. Louis makers to see if anyone wanted to help.

The response was overwhelming.

“I just printed it out on a whim and put some feelers out,” said Cervantes. “Within 48 hours, the momentum swelled up insanely. We’re all rallying around this cause.”

Cervantes Design isn’t the only Missouri company working to address the PPE shortage. Halcyon Shades, a St. Louis-based window shade manufacturer, has turned its manufacturing plant from making shades to making protective face shields.

“I brought my staff together and said, ‘We have a talented workforce and a 30,000-square-foot facility. What can we do?'” said Chris Lozano, President of Halcyon Shades. “My IT guy said, ‘We could make face shields.'”

That was March 19. The company had a design two days later and began sales two days after that.

“We’ve already sold 3,000 to the city of St. Louis and the Catholic archdioceses, and we’re fielding lots of inquiries,” said Lozano.

The face shields Cervantes and Halcyon Shades are producing are not meant to replace the N95 respirators that are so critical in protecting healthcare workers and first responders against COVID-19. Instead, they serve as a barrier that protects the mask in order to prevent them from becoming contaminated. Made from polyethylene terephthalate glycol, the shields can be wiped down with bleach or isopropyl alcohol to sanitize and reuse them. This helps extend the lifespan of the N95 masks.

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