Coronavirus in Canada: One Continent, Two Very Different Responses to the Pandemic

“It’s not like making a sedan or S.U.V.,” an adviser to the United States Food and Drug Administration said. “Sounds good as a sound bite, but the practicalities may be very difficult.”

[Read: Amid Desperate Need for Ventilators, Calls Grow for Federal Intervention]

The move by Bauer, the hockey equipment maker, to use its visor expertise to produce medical face shields in Quebec seems like a more practical plan.

Canada’s federal government and most provincial governments said this week that they had enough personal protective equipment either on hand or on the way. But staff members at some hospitals have been told to ration things like gloves and masks.

I know from touring their operations that the marijuana industry has mountains of such stuff to avoid contaminating their plants and products. Canopy Growth told me that it had donated the protective gear from recently closed facilities in British Columbia to public health officials in Victoria. It also sent some masks to the police force in Smiths Falls, Ontario, the company’s hometown. Tilray, another grower donated to a hospital in Ontario.

Medical students in several cities including Edmonton, Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Montreal have started efforts to round up masks and other supplies from construction companies, dental clinics, nail salons and a range of other businesses.

Ethan Lin, a third-year medical student at the University of Ottawa, told me that the group he was involved with created a list of 1,000 companies in Ottawa and began cold calling them for donations. A single nail salon produced 300 surgical masks, another one donated 2,000 gloves. As of Thursday, Mr. Lin and his classmates had collected about 3,000 surgical masks and more than 60,000 gloves, with more coming in.

“There are a lot of different people coming together,” he said.

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