A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a test of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule. SpaceX is making hand sanitizer and face shields and donating them to local hospitals and other businesses, according to a memo sent to employees over the weekend.
Many hospitals are now running low on personal protective equipment, ventilators and other supplies as their staff are overwhelmed by the work of fighting the coronavirus pandemic. Health care workers have taken to social media, using hashtags like “#getmeppe or #getusppe,” pleading for a supply of disinfectant, wipes, respirator masks, glasses or face shields, gloves, gowns and surgical masks to protect them from transmission of germs. Donations from Musk and his companies can provide them some relief.
Elon Musk’s aerospace company told employees via an internal memo that it built 75 face shields over the weekend, and delivered them to Cedars Sinai, a local health system near its headquarters in Hawthorne, California. It also donated 100 “tyvek” protective suits to medical personnel at the hospital, and is scaling up efforts to produce and distribute hand sanitizer that “complies with CDC guidelines and is effective at killing the COVID-19 coronavirus.” Employees have also convinced SpaceX to host a blood drive with the American Red Cross in Hawthorne later this week, the memo said.
A spokesperson from Cedars Sinai could not immediately confirm that the hospital had received supplies from SpaceX.
SpaceX did not immediately return a request for comment.
Musk appears to have changed his tune about the novel coronavirus in recent days.
On Twitter, he previously wrote that the “panic” about the pandemic was “dumb.” In an e-mail he sent to all employees at Tesla, his electric vehicle company, Musk wrote: “My frank opinion remains that the harm from the coronavirus panic far exceeds that of the virus itself.” He also incorrectly claimed that children are “essentially immune” to the virus in a tweet.
But as the outbreak took off in California, where his businesses are headquartered, Musk began to share research about potential but still unproven treatments for COVID-19, and praise medical equipment makers like Medtronic.
Most recently, he has touted his own efforts to get ventilators to hospitals that need them to treat COVID-19 patients, and said his companies would begin to produce ventilators, as well, if needed.
At SpaceX, employees who are healthy enough to do so have continued to work, because the company is considered critical infrastructure and an essential business under the state’s “Safer at Home” order since it is a defense contractor. Recently, SpaceX sent at least a dozen employees home after one employee and a medic at the on-site clinic in Hawthorne, were diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.