Minnesota Businesses Step Up To Fight COVID-19

Local companies make safety equipment for those on the front lines of the Coronavirus pandemic

We are experiencing unprecedented times throughout our world. Despite nations, cities, and communities working to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through business closures and stay-at-home orders, hospitals continue to reach capacity and those working on the front lines of the viral pandemic continue to experience a lack of proper safety equipment. But many Minnesota businesses are responding to the call for help. Here are some of the local businesses that are shifting regular production to fulfill a greater need for personal protective equipment.

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  • Woodchuck USAWoodchuck USA, a company known for technology-driven wood products, reduced production of its normal inventory by 50% in order to make face shields. These face shields comply with Johns Hopkins Medicine’s medical standards and can be expedited to any medical facility in the United States. According to founder and CEO Benjamin VandenWymelenberg, his business will be producing 105,000 units per day. To order face shields, click here.
  • Bedford IndustriesBedford Industries, a Worthington company that makes bag ties and nose wire for N95 masks, is now making face shields and face mask covers, too. The face mask cover is intended to be a physical barrier that is worn over an N95 mask, allowing the mask to be reused. The company hopes to be producing 100,000-150,000 per day within a couple of weeks.
  • Frost RiverFrost River, a bag company in Duluth, halted the production of its bags to help the greater cause. Owner Christian Benson knows all too well the impact this lack of personal protective equipment is having on medical staff. His wife, an anesthesiologist, is on the front lines of this pandemic and has voiced her concern in the lack of protection at her hospital. While the small company can’t make N95 masks, Benson is willing to produce products that are more protective than a bandana, which the CDC suggested medical staff use if they don’t have access to proper masks. He is hoping to partner with companies who can provide proper materials to make the masks.
  • Distilleries – Several local distilleries are using their alcohol content to produce hand sanitizer rather than spirits in this time of need. Some of the product is available to the public while much of it is donated to those coming face-to-face with the virus. Distilleries helping the cause include 11 Wells Spirits, Loon Liquor Co., Copperwing Distillery, Du Nord Craft Spirits, J. Carver Distillery, Norseman Distillery, Tattersall Distilling, and Vikre Distillery.

The effort of these Minnesota businesses and others like them will aid the already increased production of personal protective equipment from companies already in the business of making such products like 3M, Medtronic, Honeywell, and Protolabs.

Protective Equipment Donations Being Accepted

Although many Minnesota businesses are stepping up to help those fighting the pandemic through increased or new production of protective equipment, others are asking the public and other businesses for donations.

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In light of Malaysian factories, which produce the majority of the world’s protective gloves, working at only half capacity, Brewing Change Collaborative is teaming up with One Fermentary & Taproom to host a Nitrile glove and protective glasses donation drop-off 4-8 p.m. through Friday, March, 27, at the taproom, 618 North 5th Street in Minneapolis.

Blue Cross and Blue Shields of Minnesota and Allina Health are also seeking volunteers to donate medical or homemade masks. Click here for a list of drop-off sites and a tutorial for making a homemade mask.

You can also drop off protective face wear, Nitrile gloves, Tyvek coveralls, Tyvek foot covers, and eye protection at these Hennepin County drop-off sites from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

  • Hennepin County Department of Community Corrections and Rehabilitation: 3000 N. Second St., Minneapolis
  • Adult Correctional Facility: 1145 Shenandoah Lane N., Plymouth
  • Southdale Library: 7001 York Ave. S., Edina

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Finally, as Gov. Tim Walz said, let’s do our part and stay home, wash our hands regularly, and limit trips outside the home to essentials.

For more information about Coronavirus and its impact on our community, click here.

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