SpaceX, a space exploration technology company, is making its own hand sanitizer and protective masks to help fight the new coronavirus outbreak, and plans to donate the materials to places in need, including hospitals, according to internal memos, according tomedia reports. The company also plans to hold a voluntary blood donation event at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and consider doing so at SpaceX’s other locations and facilities.
The email, sent to SpaceX employees, said the company’s equipment, materials engineering, and health and safety teams’ homemade hand sanitizer “met the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines to effectively kill the new coronavirus.” The protective mask is made by a team of companies that make spacesuits and astronaut equipment. So far, engineers have used weekend time to make 75 protective masks and donate them to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the email. The team also donated 100 Dupont-Tweed-made work clothes to medical staff there. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and SpaceX did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
The memo also mentions how SpaceX helped its employees during the spread of the new coronavirus. For example, all food outlets at SpaceX offices cut food prices in half, and the company now allows hourly workers to record their working hours by scanning their badges instead of using fingerprint scanners to clock out their commutes.
The memo shows that SpaceX is supporting health care workers and others in the midst of the outbreak. Just a few weeks ago, however, Elon Musk, the company’s chief executive, downplayed the outbreak. At first, Musk said it was foolish to panic about the new coronavirus and repeatedly tried to play down the severity of the U.S. outbreak, telling employees in an email that they were more likely to die in a car accident than from the virus. Now two of SpaceX’s employees have tested positive for the new coronavirus, and 12 others are being quarantined. Employees at the company’s schools are reportedly concerned about their safety because they have to work normally during the outbreak.
In the weeks that followed, Musk offered to use his company to help patients and those fighting the outbreak. Tesla, another company run by Musk, recently purchased 1,000 ventilators and donated them to California. Tesla also sent up to 50,000 N95 medical masks to the University of Washington Medical Center. At the same time, Tesla is working with medical device company Medtronic to help hospitals cope with equipment shortages as more patients need ventilators. Musk said on Twitter that Tesla’s superplant in New York would be open “as soon as possible” to help the state produce ventilators.
Other companies, such as Ford, General Motors, Apple and Facebook, are helping U.S. health care providers by donating or making much-needed medical supplies as the current outbreak spreads and strain the U.S. health care system.