Missourians Step Up to Produce Much Needed PPE In Fight Against COVID-19

Across Missouri, manufacturers, designers, universities, and more are stepping up in a big way to help produce personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical personnel, first responders and the general public to stay safe and healthy in the fight against COVID-19.

Shoe manufacturer Nike has converted its St. Charles, Missouri, facility to start manufacturing PPE in the form of full-face shields and powered, air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to protect against the coronavirus. Nike’s version of the full-face shield transforms elements of the brand’s footwear and apparel into much-needed PPE.

Nike isn’t the only company turning its attention to PPE manufacturing. Aerospace and defense giant Boeing has switched its St. Louis, Missouri, plant from producing airplane parts to manufacturing face shields made from plastic and 3D printed materials.

Missouri State University’s Jordan Valley Innovation Center (JVIC) and health innovation giant CoxHealth are also innovating solutions in the fight against COVID-19 using 3D printing. They have teamed up to create PPE for healthcare workers using 3D-printing and laser-cutting technology.

“Challenges like COVID-19 cause organizations to look outside the box to find solutions, which is what we’re doing to help provide PPE for our local healthcare workers,” said Scott Rogers, System Director of Performance Integration and Innovation at CoxHealth. “This is an exciting development that we hope will make a real difference for our staff and other health systems across the country and around the world.”

On the other side of the state, faculty and staff at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, have been using 3D printers and laser cutters to design face shields and protective visors for local hospitals. The university is using existing supplies and materials it has on hand to manufacture the equipment.

Just north of Cape Girardeau, 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.

Just down the road, local maker, designer, tinkerer and DIY-er, David Cervantes, Owner of St. Louis, Missouri-based Cervantes Design, went to his 3D 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.

“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.”

And Michael Drummond, a designer at the Saint Louis Fashion Fund, also heard the call, and is leading a group of 10 out-of-work designers to sew 14,000 face masks over the next few weeks to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The masks meet Centers for Disease Control standards and can be worn by frontline workers at grocery stores, area hospitals, and small patient care facilities.

All of these groups, and more, are using innovation to create real solutions and are leading the charge across Missouri to help in the fight against COVID-19.

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