County Judge Lina Hidalgo on Thursday approved a waiver that will allow Houston Community College to use high-capacity 3D printing labs to produce mass quantities of protective face shields while operating as “Essential Critical Infrastructure.” The shields will assist M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Hermann Health System, and Baylor College of Medicine.
“Medical workers are on the front lines and we need to protect them,” Judge Hidalgo said. “These are extraordinary times that require all of us to think creatively and offer up our resources, and I commend HCC for seeing this as an opportunity to help our hospital system fill a critical need.”
The Memorial Hermann Health System currently has access to 600 face shields per day using TX/RX Labs, a local nonprofit Makerspace that produces personal protective equipment. HCC has two facilities that can provide high-capacity production of protective face shields while requiring minimal staff supervision:
• The IDEAStudio at West Houston Institute, capacity: 32 printers, each can produce 600 face shields per day
• The Advanced Manufacturing Center at HCC’s Stafford Campus: 30 printers, each can produce 600 face shields per day
Once fully operational, the HCC sites in partnership with TX/RX Labs could produce more than 30,000 face shields per day while requiring no more than two qualified staff members at each location.
Judge Hidalgo issued a mandatory Stay Home-Work Safe order for Harris County on Tuesday, closing non-essential businesses through April 3 in an effort to preserve public health and safety. Manufacturers of ventilators, personal protective equipment, or other medical supplies and equipment necessary for the COVID-19 response may apply for an “Essential Business” exemption.