Kevin Lynch, NIB president and CEO, recently spoke with SupplyChainBrain Editor-in-Chief Bob Bowman about how NIB associated nonprofit agencies mobilized their workforce of employees who are blind to produce approximately 1,600 personal protection items for the U.S. government and military to help fight COVID-19 at the onset of the pandemic, and how those efforts will be ongoing for the foreseeable future.
NIB associated agencies, Lynch said, were better positioned than most to quickly step in to help. “For over 80 years now, we’ve been supplying the federal government and the Department of Defense [DOD] with critical items that have been used for their missions,” he noted. “We’ve been involved well before the pandemic in terms of supporting our military, throughout all of their engagements. We were somewhat prepared for this, if you could be prepared for a pandemic, but I will tell you that it was kind of unprecedented for the personal protection products that we supply to the military and federal government to all of a sudden get the surge that we did.”
As part of the AbilityOne® Program, NIB agencies routinely supply the federal government with hand sanitizer and latex and nitrile gloves, but suddenly demand greatly exceeded the normal volume of products produced. When the pandemic hit, many agencies increased employment and shifts, switching to a seven-day production schedule. In addition, many moved from producing clothing items to producing face masks for the military and agencies throughout the federal government. “We’ve produced over 2 million masks,” Lynch said. “Additionally, we’ve had agencies that were involved in classic fabrication shift to making face shields.”
“So far, we’ve provided 1.6 million gallons of disinfectant cleaner, and over six and a half million bottles of Purell/SKILCRAFT® hand sanitizer. We’ve provided over 900 million gloves to both the VA and Defense Logistics Agency, as well to the Department of Health and Human Services,” said Lynch.
And even though relief may be in sight with the introduction of COVID-19 vaccines, Lynch anticipates “the demand is going to continue at a higher level than what we saw pre-pandemic for our PPE items. That’s because even with the vaccine rollout, [government officials] still anticipate that they’re going to have certain protocols in place that will require ongoing cleaning, continued use of masks, and social distancing and wearing gloves. Even after some of the protocols start coming down, I think the general population, at least for the near future, is going to be a little more heightened and sensitive toward hygiene.”
To learn more about how NIB associated agencies pulled together and quickly pivoted to support the pandemic response, click here to read the full article at SupplyChainBrain.