Bauer gets green light to make protective medical gear

Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer is offering to modify its production line to make protective visors for doctors, nurses and first responders.

Hockey equipment maker to adapt visor production for medical staff, first responders

Los Angeles Kings forward Jeff Carter is seen wearing a Bauer helmet in a 2018 game. On Wednesday, the hockey gear manufacturer offered to switch production to medical shields for doctors, nurses and first responders. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

Hockey equipment manufacturer Bauer says it has received government authorization to produce protective gear for medical staff and first responders.

The company says it has modified its production line to make full-face, single-use visors.

However, it needed to notify Quebec's Ministry of Economics and Innovation and get the green light to operate as an essential business.

All non-essential businesses in the province have been closed under order of Premier Francois Legault.

Dan Bourgeois, Bauer's vice-president of product innovation, says he received an email from the government at 2 a.m. on Thursday.

Bourgeois adds that demand has grown, meaning the company will try to ramp up its daily output in the hopes of producing 500,000 units.

Company says doing its part

The protective equipment will be produced at the company's innovation centre in Blainville, Que., as well as its facility in Liverpool, N.Y.

On Wednesday, Bourgeois, said much of the interest was coming from Montreal police, firefighters and hospitals.

"We say we're a protective company.… Then why aren't we starting to [make] protection for our doctors, nurses, hospitals, and their needs?" said Bourgeois.

The  full-face visors are made of plastic and contain anti-fogging material. Bourgeois adds Bauer is in the process of developing visors that can be cleaned, disinfected and reused.

Bourgeois adds the company doesn't expect to make a profit on the project, nor is that the goal. He said Bauer might also have other protective goods on the way.

"We really feel it's our part in helping to fight COVID-19," Bourgeois said. "And also to keep my people busy."

Quebec's federation of medical specialists said in a statement it is happy to see businesses such as Bauer lending a hand in the fight against COVID-19.

The federation salutes "the initiatives of private companies that are offering their resources to the health network, notably to ensure we have reserves of protective equipment," spokeswoman Clementine Maes said. "To face this crisis, all help is welcome."

Fanatics follows lead

The Bryce Harper jersey that could have been worn this baseball season by the biggest Philadelphia Phillies fan is now a protective mask in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Fanatics, the company that manufactures uniforms for Major League Baseball, has suspended production on jerseys and is instead using the polyester mesh fabric to make masks and gowns for hospitals in Pennsylvania and nearby states.

New York Yankees and Phillies pinstripes were still in vogue on baseball's scheduled opening day — only stitched on the protective wear made by the apparel company.

Michael Rubin, the founder and executive chairman of Fanatics, was watching TV last week when he was struck by the idea to turn the 360,000-square foot facility in Easton, Pennsylvania, into a factory for the COVID-19 virus fight.

While Rubin considered how he could make it happen, St. Luke's Hospital in Bethlehem reached out to Fanatics late last week about the possibility of the company manufacturing masks. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro each contacted Rubin over the weekend and told Rubin the state was in "dire need" of more masks and gowns.

Fanatics developed a prototype that was approved by the state's emergency agency and by Tuesday the company halted production of all baseball jerseys.

With files from The Associated Press

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