Volkswagen and its fabric supplier are donating 75,000 gowns and masks to New York City hospitals

Getty Images/John MooreA doctor from SOMOS Community Care prepares to test a patient at a drive-thru testing centre for COVID-19 at Lehman College on March 28, 2020 in the Bronx, New York City.
  • Volkswagen’s fabric supplier, Faurecia, is pivoting production to focus on providing personal protective equipment to hospitals and medical centres, the two companies announced Friday.
  • The first shipment is expected to arrive at New York City’s Javits Centre this week with 75,000 pieces of equipment, including masks and gowns.
  • The Javits Centre will now receive COVID-19 patients after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made requests to the federal government to convert the facility. The transition opens 2,500 more hospital beds in New York City.
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Volkswagen is collaborating with its fabric supplier, Faurecia, to start producing personal protective equipment for medical providers, the companies announced Friday.

Volkswagen worked with Faurecia to make changes to its Mexico-based manufacturing plant so it could produce masks and gowns and said it will have the capacity to make about 250,000 masks and 50,000 gowns per week.

The Volkswagen supplier’s pivot in production comes at a time when coronavirus risks sending the US health care system past its breaking point as hospitals and medical centres are already experiencing shortages of protective equipment including mask and gowns.

During a news conference Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo emphasised that it is within the realm of possibility for companies to manufacture simple garments like masks and gowns.

“Volkswagen is proud to have partners like Faurecia willing to step outside their usual scope and drive something bigger,” Scott Keogh, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America said in a press release. “This joint effort is putting the ingenuity of VW and our supplier network on full display, and we don’t plan on stopping our response to this crisis here.”

Volkswagen donated the first shipment of the Faurecia-produced masks and gowns to New York State as it battles the coronavirus with over 100,000 cases, the highest number of any state in the country, according to Microsoft’s COVID-19 tracker.

The delivery includes 70,000 masks and 5,000 gowns that will be distributed to hospitals in New York, including New York City’s Javits Centre. The supply is expected to arrive this week.

The Javits Centre was recently transformed by the US Army Corps of Engineers into a temporary hospital staffed by FEMA and Army medical personnel, the release said.

Now, the Javits Centre will also receive COVID-19 patients, according to Cuomo, who said he requested the federal government convert the facility to receive COVID-19 patients.

The transition of the Javits centre to receive COVID-19 patients now opens 2,500 beds in New York City, according to a tweet from Cuomo.

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