Workers at Ford's Windsor Engine Plant have already delivered more than 3,700 face shields to front-line workers combatting the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic at hospitals and long-term care facilities across Windsor-Essex.
According to Unifor Local 200 president John D'Agnolo, a small group of 14 employees have spent the past few weeks constructing protective shields out of lexan — a kind of synthetic leather — as well as sponge, elastic bands, and, of course, face covers.
Windsor Regional Hospital has already received at least 2,000 face shields made at the Windsor Engine Plant, with an additional 1,720 spread out across Hotel-Dieu Grace Health, Erie Shores HealthCare, the Downtown Mission, Sunrise Senior Living and the Village of Aspen Lake.
"The company, they obviously have to get suppliers, they're going to need more of the materials to make these shields," he said. "I believe they're looking at making hundreds of thousands of these shields."
Each employee is currently able to make two to three shields per minute, according to D'Agnolo.
"They're doing a heck of a job," he said.
The masks are disposable, and when used properly by front-line doctors, nurses and other health-care providers, they can mean the difference between staying safe and potentially contracting coronavirus.
WATCH | Unifor Local 200 president John D'Agnolo talks about face shields and the Windsor Engine Plant:
"It's not much to it, but this thing will save lives and help hundreds of thousands of people," D'Agnolo said.
Ford, as well as a number of global automotive manufacturers with facilities in North America, announced a temporary production suspension in mid-March as a means of preventing the further spread of COVID-19.
In order to stay safe, D'Agnolo said, employees in the Windsor plant right now are spread out at workstations 10 feet to 15 feet apart within large training rooms in the facility.
... Here's another reason why you need industry in your communities. - John D'Agnolo, President, Unifor Local 200
"They have hand sanitizer, they have the cleaning area and they have their own area, and no one else is in it," he said. "They're all going through one exit and leaving one exit, and it's been pretty successful."
D'Agnolo said employees have been excited at the opportunity to "support the workers throughout our community."
"We always talk about the important of the industry being in our communities for financial reasons, but here's another reason why you need industry in your communities," he said.