COVID – 19 Beyond the Masks and Face Shields

There are very important things that is being initiated by various levels of government on the acute care side to have the relevant resources accessible such as ventilators, medications, PPE and tubing ready to support and treat patients.

As the number of citizens affected increases across the nation it is starting to overwhelm our healthcare and emergency response systems. To get control and ahead of this pandemic, we need to get creative in doing things to improve capacity. Lots of people are going to emergency departments completely unnecessarily when they could have gone to local non-emergency care facilities or telehealth where medical staff may have more availability and capacity to treat various symptoms.

On the business side of the COVID-19 impact, the phrase “new normal” is being thrown around a lot lately and in many ways a misnomer. Here on the ground in Canada and the U.S., things are far from normal with businesses closed, employees working remotely and people sequestered in their homes, at least for the next month. People are concerned for their future – both health-wise and economically as over a 30% of North American small businesses don’t think they will be able to survive the impact and have the financial means to reopen.

In our minds there is no such thing as a “new normal”. Nothing will be normal in the foreseeable future and using the term new normal is misguided and hides the stark reality of continuous and dynamic changes ahead, people are still in shock, trying to adjust to an imposed way of life in a free society, and as a result, they either do nothing or they go crazy, conjure up numerous unfounded scenarios, start fear mongering and run around aimlessly trying to do everything at once. People are in fear and in an uncertainty mode, reacting instead of thinking and looking at the immediate impacts and deciding what is in their control. Now is the time to put our collective heads together at work, home and in local communities, decide on priorities and focus on coordinating proactive actions within the present capabilities and capacities.

I have had the first hand experience to see how people react and how behaviours change during major disasters (nothing to the magnitude of COVID-19). We need cooler heads to prevail and think through our options in mitigating the crisis. Time will lessen the reactive phase and it will end; however, we will continue to be actively under “construction” and change as we emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 impact.

On the supply side of the equation, and to keep the pipeline working companies are choosing not to be idle in the midst of this crisis. They are doing what is necessary to in every aspect of the business to support the immediate needs and prepare your business for recovery.

Companies are stepping up to the challenge, shifting gears, retooling production lines to manufacture product sending support through products and services in the global COVID-19 fight.

As companies step up to mitigate the spread, disposables are front and center in the fight. It’s natural that an initial corporate response to the outbreak has focused on supply chain logistics but also because it is critical in a crisis to ensure that there is enough supply of materials including surgical masks, disinfectant, protective suits and safety goggles for the front-line medical workers.

As the nation continues to grapple with how best to move forward amid sustained concerns over the spread of the coronavirus, an often-overlooked facet of spread-prevention methods is the adverse impact they can have on everyday people ranging professionals, manufacturing, “field” workers to college students are all now forced either to work from home or interact with colleagues and clients in a different manner.

Both lives and livelihoods are at risk from this pandemic, the disease is spreading quickly. This is a global problem requiring a coordinated global response. We know that it will eventually retreat, but we don’t know how fast this will happen. We also know that this shock and impact is somewhat unusual, as it affects significant elements of both feed stack and food supply based on a different demand model (e.g. Hoarding). We are at risk of a food and critical supply crisis, unless measures are taken fast to protect the most vulnerable, keep global food supply chains alive and mitigate the pandemic’s impacts across the food system.

Border closures, quarantines, and market, supply chain and trade disruptions could restrict people’s access to sufficient and nutritious sources of food, especially in regions hit hard by the virus or already affected by high levels of food accessibility and availability.

During this time of school and business closures, major events postponement and remote working, the world is increasingly seeking out more virtual options – and companies are responding by removing paywalls and increasing access to products. Google announced it will allow free access to the “advanced” features of Hangouts Meet to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers through July 1 (usually an additional $13 per user per month charge) and Microsoft is offering a free six-month trial for its premium tier of Microsoft Teams globally.

A number of businesses have stepped up with efforts of varying levels of impressiveness aimed at easing COVID-19 woes for customers, employees, and the general population.

The one-two punch of COVID-19’s impact on manufacturing operations, transportation, tourism and airlines has dealt a brutal blow to industry. The foodservice industry is also in crisis mode, restaurant traffic continues to dwindle.

Companies are developing contingency plans using modelling that includes major storm, fire, ice, wind damage to overhead lines and substations on top of the disruption to staffing as engineers fall sick, self-isolate or stay at home to care for sick family members.

The American power grid the world’s biggest machine — and the people who run that (aging and at capacity) machine are prepared to keep the lights on as the COVID-19 pandemic spreads. Disaster planning is baked into the DNA of electric and gas utilities, which regularly deal with hurricanes, fires, earthquakes, cyberattacks and other disruptions that threaten to disable critical and fragile infrastructure. This doesn’t mean responding to the coronavirus will be easy. But it does mean utilities have plans in place and are continuously adjusting tier plans to ensure the supply of reliable electricity and gas while the crisis plays out. They are doing their best to adapt to changing conditions. Utilities, telecommunications companies and automakers are easing shutoffs and waiving late fees to accommodate consumers who might be struggling during the coronavirus pandemic.

As many universities around the country switch to online-only mode for the time being, students left befuddled by what to do with their belongings can turn to U-Haul. The company is offering a free month of self-storage to affected college students.

Gas and Electric Companies across the nation is halting service disconnections for non-payment for both residential and commercial customers until further notice. Utilities are also offering flexible payment plans “to customers who indicate either an impact or hardship as a result of COVID-19.”

Industries like trucking, manufacturing, distilleries, agriculture, farming is supporting the front line medical, healthcare and protective services with creative solutions that can help pivot to a new aid-focused business model or by simply donating extra resources to those in need on the front lines.

We are recognizing and thanking companies who have stepped up and continue to support the COVID-19 fight, this is not a commercial paid advertisement, we are genuinely thankful for their support and services:

Agriculture and food security

At the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, there has been a significant increase in demand. Fear of contagion can translate in reduced visits to food markets, hoarding, a major shift in how people buy and consume food – limited access to normally available supplies at big box stores, congestion and panic at grocery stores, lower restaurant traffic, increased e-commerce deliveries, and a rise in eating at home.

Following the outbreak of coronavirus, countries around the world started to implement a number of policy measures aimed at avoiding the further spread of the disease. However, such measures will impact food, distribution, storage, transportation and agricultural production. For example, many countries are implementing higher controls on cargo vessels (air, land, sea), with the risk of jeopardizing shipping activities and with a particular risk to perishable goods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, seafood and associated fresh perishable products.

The agriculture sector labor force is at risks and will also be impacted by the restriction and free movement of people, such as seasonal workers, might have an impact on food production, global pricing and distribution. Measures to guarantee acceptable health and safety standards in food factories, may slow down production.

Manufacturing: Manufacturers are attempting to put in place immediate and contingent safety measures for their employees, and determine which functions can be carried out remotely. The sector is also preparing for prolonged reduction in capacity and cost structure, which may translate into possible staff reductions and related measures, as economic activity and commercial, shipping, trucking and aviation capacity decline.

Mining: Mines are not going to make a hasty decision to close down, because some of those decisions will take many months, and cost money, in the mean time, they are in crisis management mode and attempting to keep operations fluid.

Automotive: The Michigan-based automaker Ford is teaming up with a number of other entities to produce much-needed medical equipment as quickly as possible. The car company’s multiple partnerships with General Electric Healthcare include the production of 50,000 life-saving ventilators as well as an additional collaboration with Airon Corporation that will see the production of even more innovative ventilators that will operate on air pressure without electricity.

Whiskey Distilleries. Per an Instagram post they are retooling to make “high proof ethanol so we can produce hand sanitizer for our local medical community, government organizations and high-risk individuals.”

Crescendo Spirits Located in Eugene, OR. Manufactures organic vodka and flavored citrus liqueurs. Now making hand sanitizer for businesses and individuals.

Corsair Distillery Located in Nashville, TN. Manufactures Whiskey and Gin. Their site states “We have spoken to the leaders of our local and regional hospital systems, and the need for more sanitizer to critical health services is both huge and urgent. We are pushing our production straight to our front-line medical community.” Craft groups and individuals are also stepping up to help. Due to the shortage of face masks, sewing circles and individuals are making masks for those in the medical field. These are craft skilled accounts I have found that are participating in the mask effort.

ExxonMobil: Joins Global Center to Expedite Medical Innovation for Personal Protective Equipment

  • Rapid design and deployment of reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers
  • Rapid design and deployment of reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers
  • Multi-use equipment will help alleviate supply shortages for face shields and masks
  • ExxonMobil to lend technical expertise and supply raw materials to help manufacture new reusable face masks

ExxonMobil and the Global Center for Medical Innovation (GCMI) said today that they have initiated multi-sector and joint development projects to rapidly redesign and manufacture reusable personal protection equipment for health care workers, such as face shields and masks, which are in short supply as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. In response to the unprecedented challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, ExxonMobil is applying its deep knowledge and experience with polymer-based technologies in combination with GCMI to facilitate development and expedite third-party production of innovative safety equipment that can be sterilized and worn multiple times.

A new industrial-style mask is being fast-tracked for production. The design improves coverage of a health care worker’s nose and mouth and will use a replaceable cartridge system that includes a filtration fabric to prevent contact spread of the virus from the saturated filter. In this design, the filters are disposable while the main component of the mask can withstand repeated sterilization, thus prolonging the life-cycle of the product and addressing shortages of N95 masks. Prototypes are currently being tested and reviewed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

When approved, production will begin immediately, with ExxonMobil supporting the identification of  manufacturers familiar with the materials and process to quickly deliver the masks to doctors, nurses and health care providers. Once approved, manufacturers indicate they will be able to produce as many as 40,000 ready-to-use masks and filter cartridges per hour. “Expediting advanced technologies to help those who are combatting this global pandemic is absolutely critical for society,” said Karen McKee, president of ExxonMobil Chemical Company. “We’re proud to do our part by sharing our expertise and experience in material technologies, and energy supplies needed to support our health care workers. It’s just one example of ExxonMobil employees working around the clock to help keep our communities safe and limiting the spread of COVID-19.” “Scaling solutions rapidly to address the global crisis requires significant investment, innovation and collaboration,” said Tiffany Wilson, CEO of Global Center for Medical Innovation. “By partnering with ExxonMobil, we’re harnessing the expertise and capabilities of one of the world’s largest energy companies to accelerate our ability to realize that vision.”

Another product developed by GCMI is a face shield made from high-grade polymers that can withstand the harsh conditions of sterilization to enable reuse, while meeting the visibility and safety requirements of current designs. The technology complies with existing safety standards, reducing the time from design to front-line use. More than 50,000 units have already been produced and are being distributed to hospitals in New York and Atlanta. Production facilities are ramping up to manufacture more than 170,000 shields per hour in the coming days. GCMI verifies, validates and accelerates the development and commercialization of new medical technologies that save lives and improve patient care.

GCMI has worked collaboratively during COVID-19 to design, develop, prototype, validate and execute the need for protection to frontline healthcare workers, with an efficient, quick process intended to save lives.

ExxonMobil, which invented filtration fabric technology in the 1960s, is making its experts available to provide technical expertise and delivering polypropylene from its manufacturing sites in Baytown, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The raw materials will be expedited, if needed, for face mask assembly.

The company will also facilitate supply chain interfaces to expedite deployment. The initiative is a collaboration between GCMI; Dr. Joanna Newton, Pediatric Hematologist/Oncologist, Aflac Center and Blood Disorders Center of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Emory University School of Medicine; Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Pediatric Technology Center; and a team of scientists and researchers at the Georgia Institute of  Technology and its Invention Studio. ExxonMobil’s efforts with Global Center for Medical Innovation expand the company’s collaborative work with other companies and academic institutions that are focused on developing new energy technologies, improving energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. ExxonMobil also works with more than 80 universities around the world to explore next-generation energy technologies.

Mohawk Industries  Mohawk, FSI partner for donation project

[Calhoun, Ga.] Mohawk Industries and Fabric Sources International (FSI) are combining resources to
address urgent medical supply needs at Hamilton Medical Center in Dalton, Ga. and Emory Healthcare in Atlanta during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Using fabric provided by FSI, Mohawk Home’s Dalton-based rug manufacturing facility is providing
industrial sewing equipment for their skilled employees to produce vitally needed medical protective gear for doctors, nurses and other care providers.

“During the developing COVID-19 crisis, we came together as a team to look at our current capabilities and see if there was any way that we could help the medical groups in our communities,” Bart Hill, senior vice president, product development and operations, said. “When the team at FSI reached out to Hamilton Medical Center to learn about their needs, they found out that Hamilton was in short supply of medical  gowns worn by care providers. That’s when FSI asked us if we could combine our resources and skills to produce these items.”

Healthcare providers wear these gowns in non-surgical settings to prevent their clothing from being
contaminated by patient body fluids. The gowns are worn when a patient’s symptoms are consistent with COVID-19 or other infectious diseases and contact precautions must be taken.

The Mohawk Home team quickly developed a process for cutting the fabric pattern and sewing together the gown components. “When we were made aware that our local hospital was out of these gowns, we were asked, ‘Do you think you can do this?’” Darlene Pasley, sewing department manager, said. “Our quick answer was ‘yes,’ even though we didn’t yet know how to do it and had never done anything like this before. We just knew we had to do what we could to help.”

Pasley explained how the team disassembled a medical isolation gown, measured it, copied the size, cut out a pattern by hand and sewed it back together. Earl Nichols, Mohawk Home senior engineer, and the team broke down every step into a separate process for the team and set up a small assembly line in a day.

“I have family members that are in the medical field, and all of them were telling me the same thing we’re hearing on the news, that they were running low on supplies,” Jesus Naranjo, cutting department manager, said. “So, I was ready to jump in immediately to try to help. We cut out the first design by hand with the intention of taking that shape and mass producing it on our equipment. We had never designed anything other than a rug on our equipment before, but using our software and going through several revisions, we created an approved design.”

The sewing team adapted quickly to the new product and material. According to the company, production has now expanded over the past two weeks from a handful of gowns to 1,200 per day, with plans to continue speeding up the process.

“I’m so happy that we’re able to help our doctors and nurses,” Wanda Rowe, lead sample rug sewing
machine operator, said. “I think we sometimes take for granted that the supplies we need to do our jobs will always be there. The first gown was very tedious to put together, but when the rest of the gown sewing team worked together to each do their part, things came together like clockwork.”

About 1,000 of these medical gowns are being donated to Hamilton Medical Center, and the groups have also begun supplying gowns to Emory’s hospital system, the company said.
“Amazing things can happen when the community and local businesses come together to solve real-world community challenges,” Chris Simuro, president of FSI, said. “I could not be prouder of the team here at
Fabric Sources International for its efforts to step up and help find ways to supply the medical personal
protective equipment (PPE) our community hospitals need as they battle every day to care for our
community. Our team has been working day and night for the past 10 days to create solutions the medical community desperately needs, and they all would say they feel blessed to have such a unique opportunity to step up and help our community in such a direct way.”

As much as possible, the team said they plan to expand production to meet the needs of other area hospitals facing supply shortages.

“I’m really proud to work for a company like Mohawk that immediately wanted to help out the community,” Nichols said. “In a matter of two days, we were able to engineer, create and sort out the supply chain to manufacture these much-needed supplies for the hospitals. We just wanted to help in any way we could.” The group has also begun the process of creating plastic face shields, another item needed by healthcare providers for protection when they treat patients. The face shield design has been approved by the hospitals, and the group is refining its manufacturing process to determine its capacity. “Our team here has been so enthusiastic and helpful with taking on this challenge of learning to manufacture different items in such a short amount of time,” Hill said. “Everyone has the attitude that we’re all in this
together with our teams and our community, and they want to do whatever they can to help. We’re very
proud of these team members and their eagerness to use their skills to support our medical professionals.” Along with manufacturing surgical gowns and plastic face shields, the Mohawk team is also working to identify sources for certified, protective face masks for AdventHealth to help ensure that the providers in their Calhoun and Chatsworth, Ga. hospitals have the protective gear they need to keep themselves and others safe. Mohawk added it is offering its logistical and supply chain resources and expertise to help with the sourcing of these items.

According to the company, Mohawk has a history of providing support in times of need. During World War II, the company converted woven carpet looms to produce more than 5 million blankets for use by U.S. soldiers on the European and Pacific fronts. Mohawk also manufactured millions of square yards of cotton canvas cloth that the military used for tents, sandbags, tarpaulins, duffle bags and more.

Ominous outlook

Major corporations announced measures to cut staff as factories close their doors and staff and clients struggle to meet social distancing and self isolation criteria. Most companies are saying their outlook for 2020 would be at best an approximation until the true impacts of coronavirus were clear. When these initial statements were made the spread of the virus was not in pandemic mode, now a pandemic that shows no signs of slowing, we can perhaps assume that, privately at least, companies are beginning to feel nervous. Nonetheless, some companies are putting on brave faces and making people safety their first priority.

As the COVID-19 fight continues around the globe, companies find themselves in uncharted territories. They have not planned or prepare for a disruption of this magnitude and duration. The reality is numerous SMBs will not survive regardless of stimulus packages offers by government. Unemployment will continue to grow, incomes impacted and last five years of robust housing growth is at an immediate halt and decline.
Many owners and CEOs are focused on survival, and or retooling to support the demands and needs created by the pandemic.

Those who are not retooling are planning their survival, contingencies and recovery, in uncharted territory. Their focus is on people, facilities, suppliers, supply chains and eco-systems, Other concerns are around interim financing, cash flow, lease payments, asset depreciation and access to raw material.

Those retooling to support the crisis and government mandated demands, manufacturers Stepping Up to Help During COVID-19.

Whether it is donating supplies, providing funds to relief efforts, or in this case helping employees, and communities get through the COVID-19 crisis, manufacturers always step up to the plate.

Given how widespread COVID-19 is in the US, companies may need to build added flexibility into the already robust business-continuity capabilities they have demonstrated during past emergencies. Since these firms enable the generation and/or delivery of electricity, natural gas and water to customers, their service must remain dependable and consistent, even if a health emergency severely limits the number of employees and contractors who are able to work.

Also top of mind? Contingency planning in the case of a “double whammy” situation, such as the possibility of a natural disaster occurring in the midst of an ongoing health emergency.

Last but definitely not least we must recognize and understand the importance of Plastics and disposables and the critical role these items play in virus management, prevention and treatment.

Examples include, gloves, face shields, surgical masks 1860, N95, plastic bags and containers, PPEs all made from Petro-chemical products, polypropylene, polyurethane etc. these products enable us to have and maintain good health and ward off infections.

We will not be able to overcome the spread of viruses and other communicable diseases without the availability and access to these products and the companies responsible for the manufacture and distributing lifesaving products. The down side is of those products is not with the product or manufacturing itself, it is HUMAN carelessness and reckless behaviors that mismanage and litter giving the products a bad image.

A resilient organization treats safety as a core value, not a commodity that can be counted. Indeed, safety shows itself only by the events that do not happen! Rather than view past success as a reason to ramp down investments, such organisations continue to invest in anticipating the changing potential for failure because they appreciate that their knowledge of the gaps is imperfect and that their environment constantly changes. The core elements of resilience that people can develop: knowledge, training, experience, teamwork, leadership, crisis management, quality decision-making and risk avoidance. Risk involves acceptance of risk in our lives as the cost of change and survival. It is important to understand the difference between risks, gambles, threat and error management.

ResultantGroup: Workshops and Master classes are designed to enable interactive optimization methods in multidimensional spaces for quality decisions, modernization, risks mitigation and the Social, Economic, Geo-Political and Sustainability impacts to supply chain and client experiences.

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resources, monetize excess material and enable your sustainability reporting to convey the
business’ unique story reflecting how your business is genuinely managed in a shared and circular economy. Join us at one of our regional workshops.

Check out our schedule online at  Resultantgroup.com and Companiesforzerowaste.com. Visit @ResultantGroup to learn more about advisory master classes.

Dave Gajadhar is an Advisor, Speaker, Educator, and an Advocate for Human prosperity and resource optimization at Resultant Group (Edmonton, AB), business modernization, resource optimization and transition advisors. He can be reached at (780) 483-4800, e-mail Dgajadhar@ResultantGroup.com or contact through Twitter: @dgajadar.

Resultant Group helps companies to identify what matters to each of your stakeholders, participants and clients across your value chain. This enables your organization to optimize resources, monetize excess material and enable your sustainability reporting to convey the business’ unique story reflecting how your business is genuinely managed in a shared and circular economy. Join us at one of our regional workshops. Check out our schedule online at Resultantgroup.com and Companiesforzerowaste.com. Visit @ResultantGroup to learn more about advisory master classes.