UPDATED: John Deere to make more than 225,000 protective face shields in Moline
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UPDATED: John Deere to make more than 225,000 protective face shields in Moline

Deere & Co. is in the process of making 25,000 protective face shields, with supplies being ordered for the production of an additional 200,000 to be made at its Moline Seeding Group, the company announced Thursday morning.

The news is a response to nationwide calls for more personal protective equipment (PPE) amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Production on protective face shields started Wednesday at the Moline factory, which normally manufactures planting equipment and precision agriculture solutions.

Face shields will be distributed by factories in Deere's network to meet "immediate needs of health care workers" in local communities. 

“We knew that we needed to do more to help the true heroes in the fight against this virus: the front-line health care workers," said David Ottavianelli, Deere director of strategic projections and labor relations. “Our employees wanted to do more for the local community, and we could not be not prouder of their actions. They are the real stars.”

The first 25,000 face shields will be delivered to 16 Deere factories in eight states as well as the company's U.S. Deere-Hitachi factory for local distribution, the company said in a release. 

“We recognize this won’t meet all the need,” Ottavianelli added, "but we have additional orders in place to produce up to 200,000 more, and we continue to work on getting more material beyond that. Material is the key element in this entire process."

Deere is collaborating with the UAW, the Iowa Department of Homeland Security and the Illinois Manufacturers' Association. In order to fulfill production, Ottavianelli said Deere is starting new relationships with suppliers.

Deere is not currently set up to take additional mask requests, company officials said, though updates will be provided as available.

“Our manufacturing and supply management teams, along with our production and maintenance employees, the UAW and our partners have worked tirelessly to ensure we could lend our support and protect our health care workers during this crisis,” Deere CEO John May said in a release.

“By working closely with the communities where our employees live and work, we can help support the needs we’ve identified close to home and, as the project expands, address additional, urgent needs across the country," May said.

Graham Ambrose is the Iowa politics reporter for the Quad-City Times. 

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The Rock Island Arsenal is playing a critical role in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, manufacturing parts for respirators and frames for face shields desperately needed as medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies across the country are depleted. 

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