A local partnership has the goal of making more than 2,000 face shields to help protect those on the front lines of the COVID-19 battle.
Chuck Ferguson, founder of Wide-Awake Geek in Marysville, aims to make 2,500 masks with help from a variety of businesses, organizations and volunteers through a project called Yuba-Sutter Shields.
“I’ve got equipment here, I called volunteers and we got started,” Ferguson said. “We wanted it to be a community project and partnered with the Rideout Foundation for the financial oversight and donations.”
He said they’ve created 600 so far – 500 medical-grade face shields that are 14-inches across for medical workers and first responders and 100 face shields that are 12-inches across for law enforcement and food service workers.
“We are so pleased with this community partnership in protecting our front line healthcare, EMS and law enforcement and other essential workers in this crisis,” said Jeff Swanson, executive director of the Rideout Foundation, in an email.
Ferguson said people can make donations directly to the website and a donation of $12 will cover the creation of one complete face shield.
“I got the idea from Operation Shields Up out of Rocklin who started doing it some time ago,” he said. “That was the spark.”
Baked Industries of Yuba City helped by making a few hundred of the elements needed to build the first round of shields and will help with the remainder as well.
“They were 3-D printing which takes a lot of time and materials so I donated the design time, the machine time and the labor costs,” said Todd Remund, with Baked Industries. “Whatever we can do to help with the community is a good thing.”
CORE Charter School and the AeroSTEM Academy loaned 3-D printers and filament material that allowed for the quick creation of multiple masks.
“Being able to help is better than sitting at home and watching everything happen,” said Tiffany Chao, 18, of Yuba City. “Delivering them to the people who need them and knowing that we’re helping is great.”
Chao is one of four former students and mentors from CORE Charter School and the AeroSTEM Academy who are helping with the project.
As a row of 3-D printers buzzed and whirred in a Wide-Awake Geek workspace, which student Cody Parker monitored, Chao and Ferguson worked on sanitizing the shields as part of a four-step process required for medical-grade personal protective equipment.
“These are fully rewashable and fully reusable,” Ferguson said. “We’re able to provide rapid production as a stop-gap while larger companies ramp up their production.”
The Sutter Yuba Community Foundation donated $1,500 to support the Yuba-Sutter Shields project and Ferguson said there are others who are helping.
Almost $8,000 of a $27,500 goal has been raised thus far, according to the website.
He said Home Depot Yuba City has provided some materials to construct the masks as well as the products used to sanitize them.
Ferguson said the Yuba City and Marysville police departments as well as the Yuba County Sheriff’s Department have all received some of the shields they’ve built.
Local school districts have requested and received shields to help protect food service workers who are busy making breakfasts and lunches daily for students.