New York, April 10 (IANS) The Brooklyn Navy Yard, birthplace of historic vessels such the USS Missouri which hosted the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II, was now home to improvised assembly lines turning out masks for medical workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After building ships for the US Navy from 1806 to 1966, the yard became the site of an industrial complex managed by the New York City government, Efe news reported.

Once the scale of the crisis in New York became clear, officials appealed to local firms with manufacturing capability to start making masks, gloves, gowns and other personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff at the city’s beleaguered hospitals.

Several of the companies who answered that call are located at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, including Duggal Visuals, a design and printing outfit that converted its 215,000 sq.ft event space overlooking the East River into a factory floor.

The firm’s head, Michael Duggal, said that he and his employees were preparing to shut down the operation in accord with the restrictions imposed New York state Governor Andrew Cuomo to contain the spread of Covid-19 when they learned of the appeal for companies to make PPE.

A member of the staff realized that a material Duggal Visuals worked with regularly was suitable for the task and the team immediately started on prototypes of a face shield for doctors and nurses, Michael Duggal told Efe.

The company began making face shields on a Wednesday and delivered the first shipment of 50,000 on a Saturday, he said.

Since then, the operation, which also involves Bednark, a navy-yard based builder of custom installations for clients such as Google and Heineken, has turned out 250,000 shields.

“In this building right now we have about 160 people working. We could actually fit more and we have more people who want to be part of it, but we’re trying to keep everyone with the safe social distances and the bathrooms, food, meeting areas, everything not get (crowded), and keep everybody safe,” Michael Duggal said.

Output now ranges between 25,000 and 30,000 shields per day.

The US leads with the world with 465,750 confirmed coronavirus cases and New York state accounts for nearly half of that total and almost 50 per cent of the country’s 16,690 deaths.

–IANS

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