SpaceX produces its own hand sanitizer and face shields with plans to donate the material to hospitals and places in need to help fight the new coronavirus pandemic, according to an internal memo first reported by CNBC and seen through The edge. The company also plans to organize a voluntary blood transaction at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, and plans to set up drives in other SpaceX locations.
The email, sent to SpaceX employees, claims that the home-brewed hand sanitizer from the facilities, materials engineering, and health and safety teams “meets CDC guidelines and is effective in killing COVID-19.” The face shields are manufactured by the same team that builds spacesuits and crew equipment. So far, engineers have made up to 75 masks over the weekend and donated them to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, according to the email. The team also donated 100 Tyvek coveralls to medical personnel there. Neither the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, nor SpaceX immediately responded to a request for comment on the donations.
The memo also discusses ways in which the company helps its employees during the pandemic. For example, all food stores at SpaceX locations cut their food prices by half, and now the company now has employees scan their badges hourly to clock their hours instead of using a fingerprint scanner.
The memo, which shows support for health professionals and others in the midst of the crisis, comes just weeks after the company’s CEO, Elon Musk, revealed the pandemic. Originally, Musk said the panic surrounding COVID-19 was silly and repeatedly tried to downplay the severity of the disease, telling employees in an email that they would die in a car accident rather than the virus. Now, two SpaceX employees tested positive for COVID-19, while another dozen are quarantined. Employees of the company’s internal school have raised concerns about their safety as they had to go to work during the pandemic, according to a report by BuzzFeed.
In the weeks since, Musk has offered to use his companies to help patients and people fighting the pandemic. His other company, Tesla, recently purchased 1,000 redundant fans from China and donated them to the state of California. Tesla also sent to 50,000 surgical N95 masks to the University of Washington Medical Center. Meanwhile, Tesla is partnering with the Medtronic medical device company to begin producing fans to help hospitals facing potential shortages as more COVID-19 patients require oxygen. Musk noted on Twitter that Tesla’s Gigafactory in New York would open “as soon as humanly possible” to start producing fans to help the state.
Other companies, such as Ford, GM, Apple and Facebook, have also tried to help the country’s tense health care system by donating or making urgently needed medical supplies as the pandemic in the United States worsens.