With Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order for all non-essential workers to stay home to stop the spread of the coronavirus in place, Remington Arms officials are offering their Ilion plant to be used as a manufacturing space for much-needed hospital supplies to fight the virus.
It was announced Friday that manufacturing operations at the plant would be shut down until at least April 30 to comply with Cuomo’s order, which is freeing up space.
“The Remington plant in Ilion now has approximately one million square feet of unused and available manufacturing space,” said Ken D’Arcy, chief executive officer of Remington Arms in a March 23 letter to Cuomo and President Donald Trump. “We would be honored to donate our facility to the production of ventilators, surgical masks, hospital beds or any other products mission-critical to the war on coronavirus.”
D’Arcy noted in the letter that “ventilators are essential to winning this new kind of war and Remington stands ready to enlist in wartime production.”
New York and other states are scrambling to obtain protective gear for health care workers and first responders, reaching out worldwide and working with manufacturers to ratchet up production as the coronavirus pandemic sweeps through the nation.
There are more than 25,000 positive cases in New York state and at least 210 deaths, according to state figures released Tuesday. Most of the cases and deaths have been recorded in New York City, an emerging worldwide hotspot in the outbreak.
Cuomo said during a press conference Tuesday that the state is in need of 30,000 ventilators to treat the surge of patients anticipated to be diagnosed with the virus, when the state is only reporting it has 7,000 available.
A Remington Arms official could not be reached Tuesday for further comment, including how the logistics of such an operation would work.
A request for comment from the White House on this offer was no’t returned Tuesday.
Locally, officials approved of the offer.
“This is in line with Remington to do something like this,” said Ilion Mayor Brian Lamica by telephone Tuesday. “They have always been there to help.”
Lamica said the Ilion plant has a history that goes beyond producing firearms, as it has also produced typewriters, sewing machines, bicycles and fire engines.
“It’s absolutely fantastic that the CEO would do that and reach out and try to help,” he said.
“I think it’s great,” said John Piseck, executive director of the Herkimer County Industrial Development Agency.
He added that his understanding is that Remington is not offering its personnel or equipment — “that’s set up for gun manufacturing” — but space that could be used for production or for distribution of goods.
“They’ve got a lot of space and the Thruway’s nearby. It’s a nice location,” said Piseck.
Herkimer County Administrator James Wallace said he had talked with Remington Arms Plant Manager Joseph Panko Tuesday.
“They’re going through the process,” he said, adding Remington has also requested a waiver to allow the plant to continue producing firearms for military and police use.
“If they can utilize more of their space, that would be great. We’ve heard of the tremendous need for PPE (personal protective equipment). The quicker they can get it, the better,” said Wallace.
State Sen. James Seward was also supportive of the plan.
“The Remington Arms workforce consists of dedicated, skilled men and women and I am working closely with the plant manager in Ilion to get them back on the job,” he said in an email. “I have discussed this tremendous offer with company officials and pledged my support. Anything we can do to get people back to work in a safe environment, while helping our state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, has my full endorsement.”
Besides all non-essential workers ordered to stay home, schools and other public places have been shut down in an effort to control the spread.
The illness has reached the Mohawk Valley with at least seven positive cases reported in Herkimer County and a total of 12 positive cases reported in Oneida County.
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