‘Team first’: Bauer Hockey making face shields for coronavirus fight

A prototype medical face shield is shown in this image released by Bauer Hockey on March 25, 2020. Bauer Hockey, Inc./Facebook

Sometimes, you’ve got to play out of position to help the team — especially when the team is facing a global coronavirus pandemic.

Bauer, one of North America’s top producers of hockey equipment, is putting its traditional business on ice to produce face shields for front-line workers who are treating patients with COVID-19.

“We’re repurposing our production facilities to make face shields so that medical professionals battling COVID-19 can safely continue to help those most vulnerable,” Bauer wrote in a statement on its Facebook page.

“Right now, we’re all playing for the same team,” Bauer said.

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The company is using hockey visor materials to make full medical face shields, which are meant to protect the wearer from being infected by respiratory droplets expelled by a coughing or sneezing patient. The novel coronavirus can infect a person through those respiratory droplets if they come in contact with the eyes, nose or mouth.

“This is a time that none of us has ever experienced before,” Mary-Kay Messier, Bauer’s vice-president of global marketing, told on Wednesday.

“You think about hockey being team first and then you also think about the greater community and how connected we are. I think this felt similar in that we needed to unite in this most uncertain time and [have] everybody pick up an oar and start rowing.”

Bauer will produce the face shields at its facilities in Blainville, Que., and Liverpool, N.Y., with the first round of gear slated to go to Canadian health-care workers. The company will produce additional face shields for the U.S. in the future, Messier said.

Organizations can request a minimum of 100 face shields directly through Bauer’s website.

A man demonstrates a medical face shield produced by Bauer Hockey. Bauer Hockey, Inc./Facebook

Messier says Bauer will produce the face shields at cost so it can help fight the pandemic while also keeping people employed.

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“We know these medical shields and other devices are in short supply,” Messier said.

Bauer is currently headquartered in the U.S., but it was founded in Kitchener, Ont., as a skate manufacturer in 1927. The company remains almost exclusively focused on making equipment for ice, street and roller hockey, although it also produces gear for lacrosse at its Liverpool facility.

The company already had orders for more than 100,000 units as of Wednesday morning, CEO Ed Kinnaly told ESPN. He added that the initiative will keep 20 people working in Quebec and another 12 working in New York.

“Frankly, I wish we could do more,” Kinnaly said. “Any way we can help, we’re going to try.”

The NHL Players’ Association and several players have applauded the move.

“So happy to see this! Makes me proud to be part of Bauer!” Montreal Canadiens forward Max Domi tweeted.

“We’re all in this together!”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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