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Fiat Chrysler to make much-needed masks for health care workers

FCA will task a Chinese facility with producing masks and donate them to the US to help fight the coronavirus.

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The masks will come from China until FCA can restart production safely in North America.

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To support US health care workers, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles plans to build masks at a Chinese facility and donate them to health care workers on the frontlines -- 1 million of them per month. Masks remain critical and in dwindling supply across hospitals as the novel coronavirus spreads and creates new cases of COVID-19.

FCA made the announcement official on Monday after the automaker confirmed the news with Roadshow previously. "The fastest way we could get relief to U.S. first responders and health care workers was to use one of our operational plants," the automaker said in a statement. "So, we are quickly converting one of our China plants until the U.S. plants are back up and running."

The automaker said it will work with national, regional and city officials to understand where the need for masks is greatest. Further, FCA plans additional action and said it will share details in the near future.

General Motors said this past Friday it would also step up and work with Ventec to rush production of life-saving ventilators. While GM didn't say it would retool any of its assembly plants to build the machines, it plans to lend its logistics, purchasing and manufacturing expertise to the company. Ford on Tuesday said it will also lend a hand to health care workers. It's already started building face masks and will have 100,000 built per week going forward. The automaker added it partnered with 3M on a new respirator design and GE for a simplified ventilator. Ford may build both items in one of its US factories.

Tesla also appears engaged in the situation after CEO Elon Musk spoke with Medtronic about ventilator production. Musk also purchased over 1,200 ventilators and donated them to California hospitals and began delivering thousands of N95 masks on the west coast. Its signature plant in Fremont, California, shut down as of March 23 to comply with a shelter-in-place order across the county, and now, California as a whole. GM, Ford and FCA also all agreed to a temporary production shutdown of all North American factories to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

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First published March 23.