Governor Kim Reynolds says private businesses and volunteers are stepping up to deal with shortages of medical supplies.
“If we know something about Iowans, it’s that we are at our best when times are tough,” Reynolds said yesterday during her daily news conference. “…Now, even as our resolve is being tested in ways like never before, Iowans are more determined to step up and care for their own.”
Reynolds said increasing the number of face shields will give health care workers more flexibility in the type of masks they use and several Iowa companies are starting to produce face shields.
“Metalcraft in Mason City and Wheaton Capital in Fairfield are developing prototypes, securing materials and gearing up for large-scale production,” Reynolds said. “John Deere is making face shields at its various plants across the state and donating them to health care providers in their local communities and Iowa City Fab Lab is making face shields for the University of Iowa.”
The “stitchcraft” division of Winnebago Industries in Forest City usually makes seats, sofas, and cushions for motor homes — but switched to sewing masks for MercyOne North Iowa Medical Center in Mason City. Other companies are preparing to produce masks and gowns, too, according to the governor.
“Without adequate masks, gowns and face shields that serve as a barrier between a provider and a patient with COVID-19, our health care professionals are risking their own health to serve those who are sick and we must do everything we can to protect them,” Reynolds said.
The governor cited a Cedar Rapids project launched last week as well.
“Eric Engelmann of NewBoCo in Cedar Rapids enlisted the help of his coworkers, his network and an assembly line of 3D printers to create and deliver 3000 face shields to health care providers across the state,” Reynolds said.
The all-hands-on-deck approach is crucial, she said, because Iowa is competing with other states for these limited medical supplies. A pattern for fabric face masks has been posted on the Iowa Department of Public Health’s website and Reynolds is putting out the call to Iowans with a sewing machine.
“If you’re willing and able, we need your help,” Reynolds said, “so thank you for considering to be a part of the solution at hand.”
Public health officials say these fabric masks can be worn under a face mask by health care workers and can be reused if properly cleaned and disinfected.