By Holly Bradshaw-Eakes
ALBUQUERQUE — A website dedicated to recruiting New Mexico suppliers, distributors, manufacturers, makers and testing-centers in the fight against COVID-19 has been launched by several of the state’s universities, research institutions and manufacturing support organizations.
The website at https://nmcovid19.org went live Friday and aims to quickly source, produce and test needed medical and other supplies that will bolster on-the-ground efforts to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.
New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP), New Mexico Tech, and Air Force Research Lab — nonprofit organizations that serve manufacturers and innovators statewide — collaborated to create and monitor the website after personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages became apparent and manufacturing companies offered to fill the gaps. University of New Mexico, New Mexico State University, Northern New Mexico College and FUSE Makerspace at Central New Mexico College are also part of the collaborative.
The website — a way to rapidly mobilize supplies by organizing needs and capabilities — seeks community partners with the ability to quickly source and/or make needed medical supplies such as face shields, gowns, ventilators, masks and other products. Companies and organizations with testing capabilities are also sought to enable testing and certification that will allow new products to quickly enter production and distribution. The focus is on products that meet medical needs.
Website visitors are asked to select one of four boxes that identify their role in the supply chain by categories. The first three are for manufacturers, suppliers/distributors, and companies/individuals that can provide needed products or materials. When one of these boxes is selected, the user is taken to a form that collects information about capabilities. For example, a company that produces cleaning supplies can indicate its ability to make sanitizer; a manufacturer that utilizes 3D printing can indicate its ability to pivot production to plastic face shields.
A fourth box is for medical providers, who are asked to share information about products they lack or seek. A list of critically needed items is continuously updated.
The website is monitored by representatives from the collaborating organizations, who match capabilities and solutions with imminent needs.
Individual makers can also participate; however, they must indicate what their products are made of. For example, masks made of cotton would not be appropriate for medical facilities, but they might be sought for use other venues.
The website is not intended for individuals seeking medical attention or a single item.