Updated: May 15, 2020
At the time, there were 18,000 cases reported in the U.S. (today 1.4 million), Ohio announced its first death, the New Orleans mayor issued a "stay home" order.
That's also the day the American Medical Association announced: “critical shortages in test kits and personal protective equipment (PPE) remain unaddressed.” They also stated that "shortages of critical protective equipment are “posing a significant risk for our ability to treat COVID-19 patients and contain the spread of this pandemic,” the AMA said in its statement." The CDC recommended using bandanas as a last resort. Cut to: Cat Navarro.
Thanks to the leadership of Cat Navarro, and the ArtCube Army volunteers and material donors, caregivers had face shields in three days. All by film and TV art department professionals suddenly out of work, but not out of the instinct to help in a crisis.
Cat and her team raised over $17,000 for a three-week intense fabrication sprint (half of which went on to fund the continuation of the PPE fabrication and medical supplies for Downstate Hospital and others lead by James Bednak), distributed 2,500 handmade face shields and countless masks to over 20 hospitals. That's quite an accomplishment considering how soon Cat's team stepped in to stop the spread.
Without the benefit of a viral mathematician (they're busy) we used the latest COVID reproductive rate we could find of 2.5 and serial interval of 4 days, we can estimate that roughly 97,655 cases of COVID were possibly prevented in her heroic run of small-batch, quick turnaround ad hoc supply chain. She will forever be a four-star General in the ArtCube Army.
Thank you, Cat!
More about Cat...
What was your last project before the shutdown?
Thirty Something (Else) - ABC Pilot
What was your role in the ArtCube Army?
I helped to organize the first iteration of the face shield initiative.
What's your experience been like in the PPE effort?
The experience actually felt a lot like working on a commercial -- working against the clock, tight deadlines, budget constraints, very specific material sourcing, etc. I also had the privilege of working with my long time fantastic co-worker, who had agreed to co-organize the effort with me. Because our working relationship is so seamless and tight, it really felt like a production; a lot of the same organizational and scheduling methods we use in film and TV shows translated well to this initiative.
What have you learned from the pandemic?
This is an interesting question, as I've learned a lot of things that aren't necessarily all positive. I've learned that even during a crisis like this when people are doing everything they can to come together and provide support, there are a lot more challenges and temporary roadblocks to get through than I predicted there would be (bureaucracy, funding challenges, people's egos, etc).
I've learned, as many others in the city/nation/world have, why it is important for governments to be held accountable, have foresight, and take responsibility. And why it is important for people to stay as informed as possible. This sentiment isn't unique to the pandemic but has been further amplified as this crisis has, in some way or another, affected basically every person on earth.
But I have also learned a lot of positive things. I've learned that even during a "lockdown," people will find a way to source hundreds of rolls of gorilla tape and marine-grade vinyl when the majority of vendors are closed. I've learned that even during uncertain and sometimes scary times, people are willing to do pickups and deliveries in their personal vehicles, despite the risk involved, without expecting anything in return.
I've learned that not only do healthcare workers receive PPE and a feeling of support when we deliver these face shields, but our volunteers also receive value fabricating face shields, knowing that they are doing something of significance in a time when it is very easy to feel powerless.
I've learned that during a crisis, even though some humans/situations still suck, a lot of humans are responding in upstanding and remarkable ways.
Have you changed in any way from this experience?
I'm not sure yet. If anything, it has made me understand what Zoom is.
What do you look forward to most when we beat COVID-19?
Besides getting back to normal life, being able to travel, hanging out with friends, and hopefully going back to work sooner than some grim predictions, I'm most looking forward to eating at a restaurant and watching a movie in a theater again.