Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ford has led the way by producing and distributing all sorts of personal protective equipment, including ventilators, gowns, and face shields. It’s also right in the middle of an effort to produce and distribute 120 million face masks to at-risk communities by the end of the year. Now, with vaccines rolling out and active cases dipping, it appears that the Ford PPE initiative won’t be slowing down just yet, however.
“Yeah, so we’re going to go as long as is necessary,” Jim Baumbick, Ford’s Vice President of Enterprise Product Line Management, told Yahoo Finance. “We want to make sure the job gets done. And PPE has been a constant need since March of last year. We’re actively very much involved in distributing PPE. So we’ve distributed 117 million level three surgical masks through our Ford dealers and the Ford Fund to get those out into communities that may not have access to PPE.”
Baumbick also touched on the more innovative aspects of the Ford PPE initiative, including a new clear mask that it’s been working on for those that are hearing-impaired. “We quickly identified that wearing a cloth mask can take away somebody’s senses in many respects,’ Baumbick said. “For those that need to lip read and may be hard of hearing, it just becomes an incremental challenge.
“And so from those early days, we were inspired to, how would we actually help those employees? And in fact, we’ve been actively working. We have a patent depending on a clear view respirator, which our goal is to get that to N95 certification and make that available as an incremental device to protect occupants in these types of environments until we are at a point where we’re back to normal and we’ve got that herd immunity and this under control.”
Finally, Baumbick also touched on Ford’s efforts to help its employees get vaccinated as well. “As vaccines start to become available, certainly we’re going to make that available, working with partners to our employees as a choice for them to make. And it’s certainly something we would encourage, but you know, we’re going to continue to use all of those playbook items – safe protocols, using the masks, and all of the monitoring and tracing, as a mechanism to ensure we robustly get through this and again, protect our employees in any way, shape, or form.”