Apple CEO Tim Cook announced on Sunday that the company has collected over 20 million protective masks from its supply chain. In addition, it’s building its own custom face shields for healthcare workers.
A global mask shortage has left medical staff without adequate protection as they treat coronavirus patients. Since the pandemic began, hospitals in the United States have sourced masks from a variety of places, including nail salons and popular ABC shows Grey's Anatomy and Station 19.
In a video, Cook shared that Apple is working with governments globally to send masks where they are needed most. He also noted that Apple launched "a company-wide effort bringing together product designers, engineering, operations, packaging teams, and our suppliers to design, produce, and ship face shields for health workers."
The masks are designed to pack flat and 100 ship in a single box. They are quick to assemble, according to Cook, and the company is sourcing materials and manufacturing from both the US and China.
Apple's first shipment of face shields went to Kaiser hospital facilities in Santa Clara Valley, and by the end of the week Apple will ship 1 million face shields, Cook estimated. The company expects to keep up that pace, shipping an additional 1 million shields weekly.
These are not the first steps that Apple has taken in response to the coronavirus pandemic. In late March, the company released a screening tool and set of resources based on CDC guidelines to "help people stay informed and take the proper steps to protect their health."
Apple also updated Siri with a custom feature for those feeling ill. The voice assistant will help you assess your symptoms and direct you to call 911 if they are life-threatening. The company plans to continue taking steps to help during the crisis.
“For Apple this is a labor of love and gratitude and we will share more of our efforts over time,” Cook said.