FCA to produce masks to protect first responders, healthcare workers from coronavirus

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced on Monday plans to manufacture and distribute more than one million protective face masks each month in an attempt to protect front-line workers — including police, EMTs, firefighters, as well as healthcare employees in hospitals and clinics — amid the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to an FCA media release, production installations are taking place this week, and the company is set to begin manufacturing the masks in the coming weeks.

Masks will be distributed across Canada, Mexico and the U.S.

"In addition to the support we are giving to increase the production of ventilators, we canvassed our contacts across the healthcare industry and it was very clear that there is an urgent and critical need for face masks," said Mike Manley, FCA's CEO, in a media release on Monday.

"We've marshalled the resources of the FCA Group to focus immediately on installing production capacity for making masks and supporting those most in need on the front line of this pandemic."

FCA said it will work with officials across all levels of government to "ensure that the donated face masks are being directed to the people and facilities in the most immediate need."

FCA's announcement came hours after healthcare and first responder group in Windsor and Essex County called on businesses to donate supplies that can be used by frontline workers responding to COVID-19.

Last week, the president of the Automotive Parts Manufacturers' Association said part suppliers could adapt to produce medical supplies to protect against coronavirus. 

However, a spokesperson for FCA has told CBC News the face masks will be produced in China.