Over the weekend, Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, posted on Twitter that the company would be donating two million masks for use in both the U.S., and Europe, as healthcare workers fight to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. That comes in addition to $15 million that Apple has already said it set aside to help efforts.
Our teams at Apple have been working to help source supplies for healthcare providers fighting COVID-19. We're donating millions of masks for health professionals in the US and Europe. To every one of the heroes on the front lines, we thank you.-- Tim Cook (@tim_cook) March 21, 2020
The move was first announced by Vice President Mike Pence during a press briefing Saturday, and Cook confirmed the company will provide N95 masks, the type that filters out 95 percent of airborne particulates and protects against respiratory diseases like Covid-19. Apple hasn't commented on where it obtained that many masks. I reached out to the company for more information but did not immediately receive a response.
Face masks are important in preventing the spread of Covid-19, which spreads in respiratory droplets, most commonly through person-to-person contact. That's why the CDC has recommended individuals practice social distancing, keeping six feet of distance from others in order to prevent the transmission of the coronavirus.
Right now, hospitals and medical workers are experiencing a severe shortages of basic personal protective gear (PPE) like masks. In Michigan, where I live, nurses at some hospitals were told that they would be provided with one mask per week, which they were to wear at all times. In response, hundreds of people have started to sew handmade masks and are donating them to hospitals and other health care providers.
Apple isn't the only company that is stepping up. General Motors has announced it will partner with Ventec Life Systems to produce ventilators and make sure they get to where they are needed. The partnership is expected to produce as many as 1,000 ventilators a month in the short term, with a goal of building 2,000 a month after 90 days.
On Sunday, Tesla delivered 50,000 donated N95 masks to a researcher in Seattle to be used by healthcare workers. The company's CEO, Elon Musk, has also said it will produce ventilators and promised to deliver 1,000 by next week.
You're most welcome. We're working on getting other types of PPE too. Ventilators should arrive within a few days.-- Elon Musk (@elonmusk) March 22, 2020
Last week, President Trump signed an executive order to invoke the Defense Production Act, which allows the federal government to order companies to start manufacturing what is needed during the current pandemic. So far, however, he hasn't yet ordered anyone to build anything, depending instead on private companies to take it on their own initiative to provide critical supplies.
While these are extraordinary efforts, it's worth remembering that the greatest impact is likely to come from ordinary individuals and smaller companies looking for creative ways to serve their communities. Your company probably won't start making masks, but that doesn't mean you can't help. In fact, good ideas are at a premium right now.
America is the most entrepreneurial place on earth, and it's all hands on deck. For some people that means using their resources or supplies to help combat a pandemic. For others, it might simply mean staying home and ordering delivery. Either way, more than ever, we're all in this together--just not too close together.