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Tigers sponsors pitch in with PPE production

Together Detroit: How General Motors, Fanatics, EMU and Carhartt are helping our healthcare system
April 16, 2020

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been asked to take a step back from their normal daily routines and transition into a new one. Many companies have asked what they can do to help, and several of the Tigers' partners were able to shift production of their normal goods to

During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been asked to take a step back from their normal daily routines and transition into a new one. Many companies have asked what they can do to help, and several of the Tigers' partners were able to shift production of their normal goods to the production of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The Centers for Disease Control defines PPE as equipment used every day by healthcare personnel to protect themselves, patients and others when providing care. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a huge strain on the healthcare system and the ability to produce and access PPE. The Tigers want to take a moment to not only say ‘thank you’ to the many sponsors that are shifting their production to PPE but to shine a light on what they are doing to keep us all safe during this unprecedented time.

Batting leadoff: General Motors/Chevy
At General Motors, they are doing everything they can to produce PPE and ventilators and support nonprofits.

With the shortage of PPE, GM’s Global Purchasing Supply Chain team worked on securing excess PPE from suppliers, and GM facilities and redistributed it to hospitals.

As soon as they were able to convert their Warren, Mich., manufacturing plant, GM began producing Level 1 Face Masks. In order to produce mass quantities of these masks, GM is following a stringent five-step system:

1) Source raw materials: Developing three layers of fabric for the masks, GM worked with automotive suppliers that typically provide them with sound-deadening insulation found in their automobiles.
2) Fold, weld, cut: A custom-made machine sandwiches the filter material and the nose piece between the layers, pleats and welds the layers together, and cuts each mask.
3) Cut and attach ear loops: Employees cut and attach them to the masks.
4) Sterilization: Masks are loaded into a sterilization cabinet for 20 minutes.
5) Bagging: Masks are then packaged in groups of 10, sealed and prepped for delivery.

In early April, GM began producing ventilators out of its Kokomo, Ind., facility. It plans to ship out more than 600 ventilators in April alone, eventually producing 30,000 by the end of August.

In order to support others during this time, GM has donated $2.6 million in grant funding to nonprofit organizations to address critical needs such as food security, housing assistance, elderly assistance, small business support and at-home education. One example of its giving is a $1 million donation to's “Keep Kids Learning” program, which will provide credits of $1,000 for teachers to send resources to their students' homes.

More information on all that GM is doing to help stop the spread and support the healthcare system is available on its website.

On the mound: Fanatics
Major League Baseball and Fanatics have shifted their focus from producing apparel for Major League teams to the production of safety masks and gowns for frontline healthcare workers.

The Easton, Pa., Fanatics plant began shifting its focus at the end of March with plans of producing more than 1 million masks and gowns. The PPE produced by Fanatics will use the same jersey material the players wear on the field. The first items produced used Yankees and Phillies pinstriped fabric. The gowns and masks will initially be distributed in Pennsylvania before expanding to New York and New Jersey.

Michael Rubin, executive chairman at Fanatics, perfectly explained why they felt the need to contribute.

“The COVID-19 crisis has compelled our country to be more collaborative, innovative and strategic than ever before," he said. "As the demand for masks and gowns have surged, we’re fortunate to have teamed up with Major League Baseball to find a unique way to support our frontline workers in this fight to stem the virus, who are in dire need of essential resources.”

More information on Fanatics and MLB’s commitment to helping produce PPE can be found here.

Batting cleanup: Eastern Michigan University
EMU donated over 100,000 gloves, standard masks, N-95 masks, gowns, materials for face shields, goggles and cleaning supplies to hospitals.

In addition to those donations, EMU and over 100 EMU community members have been making masks and face shields.

In a story written by Geoff Larcom in EMU Today, Decky Alexander, a professor at EMU and director at EngageEMU, which is overseeing the project, explained what the reach of the PPE project has been so far.

“We are providing personal protective equipment (PPE) for St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital and for community organizations and EMU offices that have essential and critical infrastructure workers," she said.

GameAbove, a group of EMU alumni, has been integral in supporting EMU’s PPE project, allowing them to provide more for St. Joe’s and local organizations or programs in need.

On April 13, the PPE project donated 100 fabric masks to the EMU Physical Plant to support essential workers.

More information about the PPE project at EMU is available here.

Closer: Carhartt
Carhartt, the outdoor apparel outfitter, joined the initiative to transform its production line to focus on PPE for frontline responders.

Carhartt began production of 50,000 medical gowns on April 6 and plans to begin production of 2.5 million masks on April 20. The company is currently utilizing plants in Kentucky and Tennessee to produce PPE and is exploring local production in Detroit through its partnership with Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center.

The first of the 50,000 gowns have been produced and are being distributed to healthcare workers.

In a press release, Carhartt CEO Mark Valade expressed his sentiments regarding his company's assistance during this time.

“Serving and answering the call during times of need has always been an integral part of Carhartt’s history, and it’s why consumers have trusted us to have their back for more than 130 years," he said. "We are humbled and honored to help all the essential workers serving and protecting us right now.”

More details about Carhartt’s COVID-19 response are available here.

The Detroit Tigers are honored to be associated with such wonderful organizations. During this difficult time, join the Tigers in saying ‘thank you’ to our partners that are doing all they can to help support those on the frontlines.