Hialeah factory shifts production to make face shields to help with medical supply shortage

HIALEAH, FLA. (WSVN) - While medical professionals are in desperate need of face masks, some South Floridians are going above and beyond to make a difference in the fight against the coronavirus.

Faulkner Plastics is hoping to help local medical professionals restock their quickly-dwindling supplies, but they are facing a big obstacle in their quest to do so.

On most days, the company’s Hialeah factory would be filled with workers. Now, there are only a handful, but it’s not stopping them from answering the call to help.

After seeing daily reports about medical workers running low on personal protection equipment, Vice President Joseph McCabe decided it was time for the company to help.

“I am seeing that need,” McCabe said. “I go home every day, and it’s pretty much every snippet on the national news, the PPE shortage. I just kept seeing these face shields on all the first responders and front line medical workers, and I said, ‘That’s PETG. I got 250 sheets in stock right now. Why can’t I make those?'”

McCabe and his team came up with a prototype face shield. It’s made out of the same material as a 2-liter soda bottle. He said it is safe to use, and it can be cleaned and disinfected and used with other protection gear.

“The face shields are important to preserve the N95 mask and make them last longer since there is a shortage of those,” McCabe said.

Using advice from medical workers, he added ear covers and a headband that can be adjusted.

McCabe’s employees have already shifted production to making the shields, but he’s worried he won’t be able to do it for long because the coronavirus crisis is affecting his own business.

“I’m sending people home right now, cutting hours back,” McCabe said. “We are in big trouble as a business but in bigger trouble in this health crisis.”

McCabe wants to continue making the face shields as long as he can. Along with donating them to medical workers, he also wants to sell them at a low cost to consumers, so he can pay the few employees he has left, but he ran into a big problem.

“eBay shut down our page completely, citing that it was against their crisis policy,” McCabe said.

The company was also blocked on Amazon and Facebook.

“I actually believe I understand where they’re coming from, the need to protect the consumer, from scams,” McCabe said.

McCabe added that while larger companies are able to stop or switch production and continue to pay all their workers, small businesses like his don’t have the same ability.

“It’s impossible right now,” he said. “We literally need to cover our rent and cover our payroll to save jobs.”

For now, the company plans to keep its doors open and continue to pay workers to make and distribute the face shields for as long as they can.

“It’s not rocket science, but it’s something that might be able to help my business, help my employees and help the fight against the virus, and that’s why I think it’s so important,” McCabe said.

Faulkner Plastics said it has the supplies to produce thousands of face shields per week.

In the meantime, the company has sent appeals to Amazon and Facebook to have their blocks lifted.

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