Alabama automakers are stepping in to aid their communities in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including support of crucial testing services and production of protective face shields for healthcare workers.
Toyota’s Huntsville engine factory is producing 7,500 protective face shields for local hospitals.
In addition, the plant has donated 160 safety glasses to local hospitals, along with $25,000 to the United Way of Madison County to support COVID-19 relief efforts.
“With our plant idled, Toyota Alabama is eager to contribute our expertise and know-how to help quickly bring to market the equipment needed to combat COVID-19,” the company said in a statement today.
Similar efforts are also happening at Toyota facilities nationwide.
Other Alabama automakers are offering community support as well.
Hyundai Motor America and its Hyundai Hope On Wheels program have donated $200,000 to the University of Alabama at Birmingham to help expand community testing efforts.
The grant will support the existing drive-through testing site in downtown Birmingham and help other sites in Jefferson County provide much-needed screening, said UAB Medicine CEO Will Ferniany.
“Support like this gift from Hyundai Hope On Wheels helps our frontline medical staff understand that they are not alone in this fight,” he said. “This grant will help further UAB’s commitment to providing access to communitywide testing.”
The grant will also be used to expand access for pediatric-specific testing services. About 20 percent of the downtown testing site’s patient population is age 25 and under, and officials from UAB Medicine, the UAB Department of Pediatrics and Children’s of Alabama hope to continue to expand testing for this group.
Nationwide, Hyundai is donating $2.2 million to support drive-thru testing centers at 11 children’s hospitals throughout the U.S.
Hyundai Hope on Wheels supports families facing pediatric cancer, and the company said the pandemic is a particular risk to children with cancer who have compromised immune systems.
Hyundai operates an auto assembly plant in Montgomery, which has been idled amid the outbreak, as have other auto assembly plants in the state.
Honda’s plants across the U.S. are also helping out during the crisis, including its factory in Talladega County.
Honda has pledged $1 million to food banks and meal programs across North America. Plants also are donating equipment, including N95 face masks, to healthcare providers, deploying 3-D printers to manufacture visors for face shields and investigating ways to partner with other companies in producing equipment.
In Tuscaloosa County, the Mercedes-Benz plant has donated N100 reusable filters, protective suits and other supplies to local hospitals, as well as $5,000 to the DCH Foundation to help with the hospital’s curbside testing process.
Mercedes is also working with the Alabama Department of Commerce on ways the company or its supplier network can support making parts for the medical industry, and it is providing expertise to other manufacturers that are producing healthcare supplies.
The automaker also hosted a LifeSouth community blood drive that received about 95 donors.
(Courtesy of Made in Alabama)