Fiat Chrysler has confirmed that they will produce a million face masks a month and stated it will distribute them to emergency services in North America to help the region in the existing coronavirus crisis.
FCA, which is also attempting to help produce urgently needed respirators for patients in intensive care in Italy, is one of a number of large producers embracing production lines to make products in desperately short supply.
“Production capacity is being installed this week and the company will start manufacturing face masks in the coming weeks with initial distribution throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico,” it stated on Monday.
The one million masks every month will be donated to police, emergency medical staff, firefighters and to employees in hospitals and health care clinics, it stated.
The decision to start distribution of masks in North America instead of Italy, the company’s other home country, shows the difficult balance global companies are having to maintain as they weigh where to provide help in the emergency.
Face masks and other protective objects for medical staff have been running out throughout the world as thousands of new cases of the highly contagious virus have arrived in the hospitals.
The automaker’s position as a historic pillar of Italian industry makes the issue of where to offer help sensitive, especially as Italy is the country worst hit by the virus so far at this moment.
Both FCA and its controlling shareholder Exor, have offered major assistance to efforts to deal with the coronavirus crisis in Italy, where almost 7,500 people have died because of the virus.
FCA and luxury automaker Ferrari, also controlled by Exor, are in discussions with Siare, Italy’s biggest respirator manufacturer, to assist it double production of the life-saving machines.
Furthermore, the Agnelli family stated last week it was making a donation of 10 million euros to combat the virus emergency in Italy.
It stated companies controlled by Exor purchased 150 ventilators and other medical equipment abroad, provided vehicles for support of people in need and were in touch with Italian officials to help them buy medical equipment and healthcare products abroad.
As part of the process, an Exor spokesman stated on Tuesday the group had made an initial purchase of 250,000 face masks in China which would be provided in Italy and were expected to reach by the end of this week.