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To support US health care workers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to build masks at a Chinese facility, CEO Mike Manley said in an email to employees over the weekend. Masks remain critical and in dwindling supply across hospitals as the novel coronavirus spreads and creates new cases of COVID-19.
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The Detroit News first reported on an email Manley sent and an FCA representative confirmed the news to Roadshow. "The fastest way we could get relief to U.S. first responders and health care workers was to use one of our operational plants," the automaker said in a statement. "So, we are quickly converting one of our China plants until the U.S. plants are back up and running."
The representative didn't have additional details to share as to when masks will start getting into the hands of health care workers, but it's welcome news nonetheless.
General Motors said this past Friday it would also step up and work with Ventec to rush production of life-saving ventilators. While GM didn't say it would retool any of its assembly plants to build the machines, it plans to lend its logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to the company. Ford also confirmed to Roadshow previously that it's looking at ways to support ventilator production for the US and the UK.
Tesla also appears engaged in the situation after CEO Elon Musk spoke with Medtronic about ventilator production. A Saturday report also suggested Tesla has N95 masks ready to donate and may have 1,000 ventilators ready to go as soon as next week. However, the automaker didn't return a request for comment when asked for more details. Its signature plant in Fremont, California, shut down as of March 23 to comply with a shelter-in-place order across the county, and now, California as a whole. GM, Ford and FCA also all agreed to a temporary production shutdown of all North American factories to help slow the spread of COVID-19.
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