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GM to convert Warren facility to mass-produce surgical masks

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News

Detroit — General Motors Co. announced plans Friday to convert its closed Warren plant to mass-produce surgical masks, an employee-led initiative in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

The necessary machinery to produce the Level 1 surgical masks was delivered Friday to the Warren plant on Mound Road, officials said.

GM anticipates production will begin Monday and will ramp-up to make 50,000 masks per day within two weeks. It hopes eventually to make 100,000 masks per day based on material availability, officials said. 

"The employee-led initiative was created, planned and approved in about 48 hours and involves GM’s traditional supply base as well as new partnerships specific to the medical device industry," GM said in an online statement.

GM will work with governments and local suppliers to distribute the masks to health care professionals.

The announcement came Friday, when President Donald Trump on Friday signed a presidential memorandum to require GM to make ventilators for the federal government despite the Detroit automaker saying it already was moving closer to producing thousands of the devices in Kokomo, Indiana.

The company has partnered with Bothell, Washington-based Ventec Life Systems and its suppliers to help boost the production of critical care ventilators that help COVID-19 patients in severe cases breathe. Ventilators built at Kokomo Operations could be shipped as early as next month, and GM said it's donating its resources at cost.

Twitter: @SarahRahal_