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Nike repurposing sneakers to create face shields for health care workers

Tracing the PPE supply chain amid pandemic
A look into the PPE supply chain amid life-threatening shortages 05:05

Nike is repurposing parts of its sneakers to create personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in desperate need of crucial supplies. The Oregon-based company is creating full-face shields and air-purifying respirator (PAPR) lenses to help health professionals at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), Nike said in a press release.

Nike looked at the face shields workers at OSHU are currently using and reproduced them with various components from the brand's products. Collar padding that was supposed to be used in shoes and cords that were originally going to be used for apparel are now going into face shields.

Most importantly, the TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) used in Nike Air soles is also being used in the shields. In addition to the face shields, Nike will also manufacture PAPR helmets, which are "used in situations with the most airborne pathogen exposure and are essential to the most critical procedures and care of infected patients," the press release reads. 

Nike and other brands are using their factories to making PPE and other crucial health care supplies. Nike

"Without proper facial protection, health care workers are at a higher risk of contracting the virus, which could place substantial strain on the health care workforce in the months ahead," said Miko Enomoto, M.D., an associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the OHSU School of Medicine.

"The full-face shields help protect health care workers' faces and also help to prolong the length we can safely use a surgical or N95 mask. Nike's generous response to the COVID-19 crisis helps to instill an added layer of confidence and support for health care workers, that we can safely carry out the jobs we were born to do," Enomoto said, according to the release.

Nike made it's first shipment of full-face shields and PAPR lenses to OHSU on April 3, and will continue to provide this PPE to health systems in the region. 

This is part of Nike's greater initiative to help with COVID-19 relief efforts. "Nike's leaders, the Nike Foundation and Nike have committed more than $17 million to COVID-19 response efforts around the world," the company said in another release. NIKE, Inc. will also provide $1.6 million to help local organizations. 

Last week, New Balance, which pledged $2 million to COVID-19 relief, also announced it had developed a general-use face mask, in consultation with local experts.

The Massachusetts-based company produced its first mask prototypes at the end of March, and hopes to make up to 100,000 units weekly by mid-April, the company said on its website. New Balance will make the masks at their factories in Lawrence, Massachusetts, and Norridgewock, Maine.

"We are simultaneously advancing our current face mask design and materials specifications to ideally meet FDA requirements and achieve a product that can be confidently used by frontline medical staff who require those criteria," New Balance said. The company will also work to create other crucial PPE, like gowns and foot coverings, using 3D printers to create some of their equipment prototypes.

Fanatics, the sportswear company that creates licensed apparel for most of the major sports leagues in the U.S., is partnering with Major League Baseball to make face masks and hospital gowns out of the same fabric players' jerseys are made out of. 

Similarly, Bauer, which makes hockey apparel and equipment, announced it has shifted its resources to make face shields for health care workers. "With sports currently on hold, we're working hard to protect those working for a brighter tomorrow," the company said on its website. 

Bauer said it has delivered tens of thousands of face shields over a two week span and plans to deliver 2.25 million by the end of May. The company is also providing customers with a face shield plan, should they be inclined to create shields themselves. 

Many other companies are joining the fight against coronavirus by offering their own, unique services. Sportswear company American Giant announced it had "worked to retool our North Carolina facilities and retrain our team of remarkable seamstresses," to make face masks. Fashion designer Christian Siriano also enlisted his seamstresses to sew face masks. French fashion conglomerate LVMH is using its perfume cosmetic factories to create hand sanitizer. 

In addition to shortages of PPE, many hospitals also run the risk of running out of life-saving ventilators. The Ford Motor Company's Rawsonville Plant in Michigan is being converted into a ventilator factory, and expects to start building the devices this month, eventually producing up to 7,200 a week. General Motors plans to begin producing ventilators next week.

The generosity from these companies and others is akin to a wartime effort to help frontline health care workers who have been issuing urgent calls for more PPE.

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