Opening up another front in the battle against the novel coronavirus, Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) is setting its sights on South America. The automaker plans on making 50,000 face shields at its factories in Brazil and Argentina, according to Reuters, which the company will then donate to help meet an ever-increasing demand for personal protective equipment. In addition to making face shields, Ford plans on refurbishing old mechanical respirators with the help of other manufacturers.
Of all the countries in South America, Brazil has been hit the hardest by the outbreak of COVID-19. As of April 1, the country has 6,836 confirmed cases and 241 deaths related to the disease.
Ford's recent announcement is the latest in several steps it is taking to help better equip healthcare workers who are scrambling to secure increasingly scarce personal protective equipment. In late-March, for example, the company announced that it was partnering with 3M to produce masks, and it's also partnering with the United Auto Workers (UAW) to produce 100,000 plastic face shields per week at one of its manufacturing facilities.
Ford is not the only auto manufacturer who has taken up the production of masks in response to the pandemic. General Motors has also committed to making masks at one of its production facilities, where it estimates that once production is ramped-up, it can make 50,000 masks daily.
Besides medical professionals, Ford is also looking to meet the needs of those afflicted with COVID-19 and who find themselves in respiratory distress. The company has set a target of producing (at least) 50,000 ventilators by July 4 with the help of the healthcare division of General Electric.