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Quicken Loans Inc. and its family of companies are funding efforts to put more personal protective equipment into the hands of health-care workers and first responders in Metro Detroit.

The company founded by Dan Gilbert and its affiliates are purchasing respirators, medical devices and equipment to make masks. Its efforts come as the city is emerging as a hot spot in the COVID-19 pandemic with almost 3,000 cases and nearly 100 deaths. And Gov. Gretchen Whitmer says a peak in cases still could be weeks away.

"As Detroit’s largest employer, we recognize our critical role in serving the members of our community,” Quicken CEO Jay Farner said in a statement. “This is a time for the public and private sectors to come together for a common goal, and we encourage the entire business community to use everything at their disposal to support our essential frontline workers who are working tirelessly to reduce the spread of coronavirus."

Quicken joins other major Metro Detroit employers such as General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Southfield-based Lear Corp., among others. They are making ventilators, respirators, face masks and shields in an effort that is quickly becoming known as the "Arsenal of Health," a reference to Detroit's military production surge during World War II.

The Quicken Loans Community Fund is partnering with career development nonprofit Industrial Sewing and Innovation Center and Dearborn-based workwear manufacturer Carhartt to purchase a mask production line machine. The equipment will help to produce more than 500,000 surgical masks per week. The operation should be delivering them within two months.

The sewing center's factory build out above Carhatt's Midtown store was expected to be completed this month to manufacture for three apparel companies. But with the outbreak, it is pivoting to make gown kits to be dispersed to local partners such as watch and leather goods manufacturer Shinola/Detroit LLC, sleeping bag and coat manufacturer Empowerment Plan and the Detroit Denim Co.

Production is expected to begin next week with 5,000 gowns per week and grow to 20,000 per week with six production sites. Carhartt on Wednesday said it is making 50,000 gowns and 2.5 million masks.

Gilbert-backed Xenith LLC, a football helmet manufacturer in southwest Detroit, helped one of its suppliers to design face shields. Its partner is assembling 20,000 face shields that will be delivered to Detroit medical staff by April 20.

Meanwhile, Quicken and its affiliates are acquiring 100,000 N95 respirators for local hospitals and health care providers. The companies are expediting the shipments of masks, ventilators and dialysis machines by contracting with private and cargo aircraft. A Quicken spokesman declined to share how much the companies are investing in the effort.

Already, Quicken call center operations are being used to schedule appointments for drive-up COVID-19 testing at the Michigan State Fairgrounds. And the Rocket Mortgage Classic has donated tents and other equipment from the golf tournament for the drive-up effort.

Additionally, the companies are providing food delivery to Metro Detroit hospitals and medical centers. Real estate firm Bedrock LLC is lighting its buildings downtown in red, white and blue.

Previously, Quicken donated $1.2 million to address the virus's impact on the city. Bedrock also is offering up to three months of rent forgiveness for restaurants and small business tenants while many businesses are forced to close their doors under stay-at-home orders.

Employees of the Rock family of companies also have donated more than $500,000 through Quicken's matching campaign to local nonprofits, including Detroit Area Agency on Aging, Focus: HOPE, Forgotten Harvest and Gleaners Community Food Bank.

bnoble@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @BreanaCNoble

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