GM retools plant for face masks amid coronavirus pandemic

GM retools plant for face masks amid coronavirus pandemic


General Motors is working with the United Auto Workers to call in at least two dozen paid volunteers from its hourly workforce to make millions of face masks at its once-shuttered Warren Transmission plant in Michigan.

GM will start making the masks on Monday. By Wednesday, April 8, the first 20,000 face masks will roll off the line for distribution to offset a severe shortage of masks caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Once production is at full-scale, GM will make 50,000 masks a day, or up to 1.5 million a month.

“We have been working around the clock with our UAW and supplier partners to make this possible, and I’m so proud to stand with other companies and our skilled employees to fight this crisis together,” CEO Mary Barra wrote in a blog Tuesday morning.

GM is also working with medical-device maker Ventec Life Systems to make life-saving ventilators at GM’s plant in Kokomo, Indiana.

Engineers and technicians set-up and test the machines that will be used to manufacture Level 1 face masks Monday, March 30, 2020 at the General Motors Warren, Michigan manufacturing facility. Production will begin next week and within two weeks ramp up to 50,000 masks per day, with the potential to increase to 100,000 per day. (Photo by John F. Martin for General Motors)

Barra said the efforts made by other industries to fill the urgent need for face masks and ventilators is “striking a nerve because it’s about hope and support for each other during a time that can seem isolating and scary.”

The masks are level one, meaning they cannot be worn in surgery, but rather are worn by delivery people and others who keep the hospital and communities running.


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