Several businesses and organizations have joined the effort to fill the need for personal protective equipment for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, donating more than 190,000 items over the past few weeks, officials with the Des Moines Partnership said in a release today.

A.J. Mumm, director of Polk County Emergency Management, said because of the “overwhelming positive response by the business community, we are able to survive the massive demand for PPE created by this virus.

“It has been the donated PPE that provides the continuity we need to keep the response moving forward,” Mumm said in the release.

Companies that have joined in the effort to create and donate PPE items include Area 515, BDI signs, Beeline and Blue, Corteva Agriscience, John Deere, Pella Corp. and Weiler.

Brad Freese, secretary of the board of directors at Area 515, a makerspace for the nonprofit community of makers, hobbyists and artists, said the DIY nature of innovating and making PPE is “right in our wheelhouse.”

“We’re a nonprofit group of people with a shared space, and shared tools who all like to make things,” he said. “This was a chance to do something we love to make a concrete difference in our community.”

Mike Vaughn of BDI Signs said the company began production about a week ago and shipped 2,000 face shields, and has the capacity to make about 10,000 shields, depending on demand.

”In the end, we all just want to help and not be a spectator and watch things play out,” Vaughn said. “We all have a role that we can play.”  

Steven Strooh, vice president at Beeline and Blue, said that by using the company’s state-of-the-art CNC router, the company can produce hundreds of shields in an hour, meeting immediate needs in the metro area.

Neal Gutterson, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Corteva, said the company is committed to doing what it can to help others affected by COVID-19.

“For example, our R&D team is using our 3D printers to print replacement headbands for face shields used by the University of Iowa’s medical facilities,” Gutterson said. 

Leaders at  other companies expressed similar sentiments in doing what they can to respond to the pandemic.

Joel Weiler, safety manager at Weiler Products, said employees who have 3D printers at home started making face shields on their own. The company also has donated PPE items to the Knoxville Fire and Rescue Department, Weiler said.

Nicolle Picray, public relations manager at Pella Corp., said making face shields for health care workers has allowed the Pella workers to “turn passion into action.”

“We’ve programmed our 3D printers to churn out 300 face shields daily,” she said.