The company that manufactures the goalie skates of Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is working on a visor that offers greater protection for those on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.
Bauer Hockey’s innovation centre in Blainville, Que., expects to begin production Monday on the visors, which the company says will offer greater facial protection than the existing medical masks.
“For people working (in close contact with the virus), for first responders and especially for those who are testing people for the virus, this visor should help,” said Dan Bourgeois, the vice-president of product innovation for Bauer Hockey.
Bourgeois said the team in Blainville partnered with the research and development team of the Bauer office in Liverpool, N.Y., to come up with the visor.
“We are both equipped to do helmets and visors to protect the eyes and nose, so we started brainstorming to come up with something that will protect people who are helping to fight the (virus),” Bourgeois said.
Bourgeois said the visor has attracted interest from police in Montreal, firefighters, health care workers, a company in Alberta, and a senior’s residence in the Toronto area looking to protect its employees.
The visor, which features an adjustable plastic band and foam support, is designed to protect the eyes and nose but a face mask should still be worn, Bourgeois said.
The need for masks has risen as the coronavirus has spread across the continent. East York’s Michael Garron Hospital, which also houses a COVID-19 assessment centre, initiated a mask and equipment donation drive several days ago after two Ontario medical associations underlined a growing shortage in the supply of N95 and surgical masks. The N95 respirator masks filter out airborne particles while the surgical masks help contain coughs.
But the effectiveness of existing masks is being questioned. Some studies have found the virus can remain airborne for three hours, and survive on cardboard for 24 hours and on stainless steel for 72 hours.
Bauer, whose employees have been working remotely, has put in a request to the Quebec government to reopen its Blainville building.
“We placed our order for raw materials Monday night … we cannot wait for confirmation for the government,” Bourgeois said. “Our staff have volunteered to come back (to work) and we’ve modified our website so people can place orders.”
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Bauer’s customer service office in Mississauga is also ready to take orders. Bourgeois, who originally projected about 10,000 visors being made, believes demand will reach 500,000 based on the emails he has received.
He said the company will sell the new visor at cost — about $6 per unit — and is not looking to make a profit on the venture.
“If it can help, that’s what we’re doing it for …”