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Contributed photo by Southern Champion Tray / A face shield made by Chattanooga manufacturer Southern Champion Tray is modeled in this photo.

One of Chattanooga's oldest manufacturers has taken on a new product during the coronavirus outbreak as it's making face shields for first responders, health care professionals and others.

Southern Champion Tray, nearing 100 years in business and one of the nation's biggest makers of food trays and paperboard packaging products, has reset some operations to produce the disposable face shields.

Brian Hunt, SCT's chief operating officer, said production of the masks is two-fold. It offers a chance to support the Chattanooga area and give back to those serving on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Hunt said.

Also, the masks provide ongoing work for its personnel during the uncertainty created by the outbreak as SCT continues to take care of customers, he said. The company didn't immediately comment on how the coronavirus has impacted business.

"Supporting our local communities has been a pillar of SCT's mission, vision and values for decades, and this is why this initiative has been so rewarding," Hunt said.

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Contributed photo by Southern Champion Tray / Face shields are under production by Chattanooga manufacturer Southern Champion Tray to aid in the coronavirus fight.

SCT joins other Chattanooga area business such as eSpin Technologies, Tuftco Corp., Shaw Industries and Mohawk Industries in helping to produce personal protection equipment during the coronavirus crisis.

According to SCT, it's donating shields to health care providers and first responders, but it soon will sell the face shields through its packaging distributor network, on Amazon and on other online retailers for businesses requiring the personal protection equipment.

A prototype of the shield was reviewed by Chattanooga physians, according to SCT.

David Chapman, an SCT structural engineer who worked on the design, said that a key element the medical community told him they needed a shield with a wide field of vision.

"When they are gathering around a patient ..., they need to be able to see who is standing next to them," he said.

Chapman had worked on several original designs and others inspired by those produced in the packaging industry, the company said. But using research from the Centers for Disease Control guidelines for face shields, and working with local doctors and nurses, he developed the new design.

The design also fit SCT's manufacturing processes and utilizes materials the company has in supply and quickly obtainable through supplier networks.

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SCT is accepting requests from medical providers and first responders at faceshield@sctray.com.

Chapman said production is in its Manufacturers Road plant in Chattanooga. So far, SCT has gotten inquiries from several industries ranging from Canada to Australia, he said.

According to SCT, it's a member of Fiber Shield, which is an international coalition of paperboard packaging companies and supply-chain partners formed at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to supply single-use face shields to medical professionals and first responders.

Each member of the group has committed to donating at least 100,000 face shields to the key personnel. To date, 750,000 face shields have been donated by coalition members, the company said.

SCT will also donate face shields to the Mansfield, Texas community, where the company has a plant, and to Chattanooga food service providers and other businesses serving the public, the business said. SCT is accepting requests from medical providers and first responders at faceshield@sctray.com. Meanwhile, requests about pricing from buyers can be made to the same website, Chapman said.

Since 1927, Southern Champion Tray has manufactured and distributed bakery, food service and catering paperboard and corrugated packaging, food and drink carriers and molded fiber tableware.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.

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