Apple will begin producing a million face shields a week destined for front-line health care workers fighting the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19.
Apple CEO Tim Cook delivered the news in a personal video message (below) posted on Twitter on Sunday, April 5.
The company is one of a growing number of tech firms exploring different ways to help during the coronavirus crisis.
Cook said the first shipment of face shields — he stopped short of calling it an “iShield” — was recently delivered to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara Valley, California. The shields, which comprise a head band and a clear plastic front, will be used as part of personal protection equipment for medical staff tasked with treating COVID-19 patients. Such equipment is desperately needed on the front line, with many medical workers risking their own health as supplies run low in locations where the outbreak is particularly severe.
Cook: “Company-wide effort”
Apple’s CEO described the initiative as a “company-wide effort bringing together product designers, engineering, operations and packaging teams, and our suppliers to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers.”
Each shield assembles in less than two minutes and is fully adjustable, Cook said, adding that his team is working closely with medical professionals and government officials to get the equipment to where it’s most needed. U.S. facilities will receive the shields first, though Apple intends to ship them to other countries, too.
Cook also revealed that Apple has sourced more than 20 million face masks through its supply chain, all of which will be distributed to medical workers. It’s also preparing to design and produce its own masks for distribution, he said.
“This is a truly global effort and we’re working continuously and closely with governments at all levels to ensure these are donated to places of greatest need,” the CEO added.
Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. We’ve now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain. Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and ship face shields for medical workers. pic.twitter.com/3xRqNgMThX
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 5, 2020
In similar efforts, Facebook recently donated a large number of face masks to front-line health care workers, and also activated an online tool to help people in locked-down communities to more easily communicate with one another. A number of automakers are working to produce ventilators, with companies like Dyson and Hewlett-Packard also getting involved.
Meanwhile, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates recently announced that The Gates Foundation will invest billions of dollars in factories producing seven potential coronavirus vaccines.
At the time of writing, there have been more than 1.2 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally, and 69,479 deaths.