Amazon is getting into the personal protective equipment (PPE) business.
In a Thursday blog post, Amazon vice president Brad Porter announced his company’s plan to manufacture face shields — like the one pictured above — at scale. What’s more, at some indeterminate future date, the company intends to sell them to customers.
According to Porter, Amazon took an open-source design, refined it, and repurposed some of its own facilities to, along with third-party vendors, manufacturer the shields. The company allegedly intends to list “hundreds of thousands” of face shields on its website at cost.
“Because of the design innovations and the capabilities of our supply chain, we are confident we will be able to list them at a significantly lower price — almost a third of the cost — than all other reusable face shields currently available to frontline workers,” writes Porter.
Which, yay, cheaper PPE is a good thing. Donated PPE, of course, would be better. In early April, Apple CEO Tim Cook promised to “produce and ship face shields for health workers.” The goal was to make 1 million every week.
Apple is dedicated to supporting the worldwide response to COVID-19. We’ve now sourced over 20M masks through our supply chain. Our design, engineering, operations and packaging teams are also working with suppliers to design, produce and ship face shields for medical workers. pic.twitter.com/3xRqNgMThX
— Tim Cook (@tim_cook) April 5, 2020
Porter, for his part, explained that Amazon will eventually sell the shields to Amazon customers.
“We are looking to prioritize frontline workers and then eventually open up to all Amazon customers,” he wrote.
Notably, this news came the same day that CNBC reported a sixth Amazon employee had died from the coronavirus. The worker, George Leigh, was employed at an Amazon warehouse in Bethpage, New York.
We reached out to Amazon in an effort to determine if its face shields will be made available to its warehouse workers along with other PPE like masks, but received no immediate response.
Jeff Bezos, according to Bloomberg, is worth around $144 billion at the time of this writing.
UPDATE: May 15, 2020, 11:33 a.m. PDT: An Amazon spokesperson responded to our request for comment, and provided the following statement:
“At this time we are prioritizing frontline workers but are continuing to evaluate rolling these out within our buildings,” wrote the spokesperson over email.