Apple has started designing and producing face shields for health workers, CEO Tim Cook revealed on early Monday. The Cupertino, California-based company is set to produce over a million face shields through its facilities per week. Alongside producing face shields, Apple is sourcing masks through its supply chain to support medical staff working to fight the coronavirus spread. The initial efforts by the iPhone maker are limited to the US market, however, Cook did suggest that there are plans to go beyond the US.
“We’ve launched a company-wide effort, bringing together product designers, engineering, operations, and packaging teams, and our suppliers, to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers,” Cook said in the video tweeted through his official account.
He mentioned that the first shipment of face shields manufactured by Apple was delivered to Kaiser hospital facilities in the Santa Clara Valley last week. The manufacturing process and the materials for the shields are sourced from both the US and China.
“We plan to ship over one million by the end of this week, and over one million per week after that,” noted Cook.
He also added that each face shield takes less than two minutes to get assembled and is fully adjustable.
In addition to the face shields, Apple is working sourcing masks for health workers. Cook underlined that the number of masks that Apple was able to source through its supply chain already rose to over 20 million around the world. The company initially announced its donation of masks last month.
Apple is currently focussing on the US for its healthcare efforts. Nevertheless, the company would soon expand them to other markets.
“We are closely coordinating with medical professionals and government officials across the US to get these to where they’re needed most urgently,” said Cook. “We hope to quickly expand distribution beyond the US.”
The coronavirus outbreak has affected Apple’s business globally. The company’s employees in many markets are working from home, while all its retail stores outside of China are closed due to the pandemic. It is also reportedly trying hard to prevent the delay of its launches due to the lockdown that has been imposed in several countries due to the COVID-19 spread.
In late March, Apple released its COVID-19 screening app and website to provide appropriate up-to-date guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) for its users in the US. The company also doubled its China donations to help recover from the pandemic.
Aside from Apple, various other electronic firms and carmakers in the US are also shifting their production to fulfil the growing demands for healthcare equipment such as ventilators and safety gear including face masks and shields as well as hazmat suits.