Companies retool to fight coronavirus spread

HomeCOVID-19Casual ContentCompanies retool to fight coronavirus spread
Liquor distilleries are stepping up to make hand sanitizer for those who need it.

The worst of times often bring out the best in people. That age-old adage certainly applies to the challenges currently facing humanity as it deals with the coronavirus pandemic.

Several industries are doing their part to help stop the spread of the virus by protecting both healthcare workers and the public at large, including both liquor distilleries and car manufacturers.

Liquor distilleries have repurposed portions of their operations to manufacture isopropyl alcohol—the active, germ-killing ingredient in hand sanitizer. With the rapid escalation in the spread of the virus, hand sanitizers have become a rare commodity as everyday citizens, businesses and especially healthcare facilities look to shore up their supplies. Bottles of Purell and other sanitizers are few and far between on store shelves, and if you do manage to come across a solution with at least 60% alcohol, chances are it has a hefty price tag.

Distilleries are stepping in to help combat the hand sanitizer shortage by using the alcohol in their facilities to create their own alcohol-based solutions. Some are packaging it in small bottles while others are encouraging people to bring in their own containers for refills.

A recent CNN broadcast put the spotlight on Old Fourth Distillery in Atlanta, which started making hand sanitizer and distributing it for free. Another company pitching in is Durham Distillery in Durham, N.C., which is supplying those in the hospitality industry who are in need of sanitizing solution. The distillery developed a sanitizing solution of about 70% ethanol and distilled water and is donating it to hospitality workers so they can wipe down high-touch surfaces like door handles and sink faucets.

Natasha DeHart, co-owner of Bendt Distilling Company in Lewisville, Texas, has shifted production entirely to combat the coronavirus and help Dallas County by producing and providing free hand sanitizer to local law enforcement, hospitals and first responders.

Aid is not relegated to domestic companies. Distilleries around the world are also stepping up. The gin stills of the Listoke Distillery in Northeast Ireland have changed course from crafting its juniper botanical-based spirit to make hand sanitizer. In the past three weeks alone, Listoke Distillery has sold thousands of bottles of the 62% alcohol hand gel at cost for customers who need it, including fire fighters and other first responders.

In addition to hand sanitizers, there has also been a surge in demand for ventilators, which provide life-saving support for those coronavirus sufferers who are most critical. While existing ventilator manufacturers are working at a break-neck pace to shore up supply, there is still not enough equipment to treat those expected to become seriously ill as the virus continues to spread. To that end, companies like General Motors and Ford Motor Co. are working with ventilator suppliers such as Ventec Life Systems to offer help with logistics, purchasing and manufacturing. Ford also confirmed it is in discussions with the government and industry to see how it can help. Note: Neither automaker is currently building ventilators at its plants. Most auto suppliers, including GM and Ford, have suspended factory production during the pandemic.

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