Coronavirus: Fremont businesses looking to hire as they battle COVID-19 crisis

FREMONT, Calif. (KGO) -- While the ranks of the unemployed keep growing, there's a Bay Area city where companies are hiring. It's because they're supporting the fight against the coronavirus.

Fremont has become a hub of essential businesses.

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Evolve, for example, is home to an assembly line to manufacture COVID-19 test kits. In a few days, it will launch a new line to make badly needed ventilators.

They and many other companies have provided on-demand services for years to produce robotics, ultrasound equipment and devices for DNA analysis.

The pandemic is the latest challenge.

"What's complicated is doing it in high volume and mass production," said Evolve CEO Noreen King. "I have a very skilled production team who have worked at Abbott, GE Medical.. so they have a lot of experience."

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Steri-Tek is trying to address the shortage of face masks and face shields by testing to see if they can be sterilized and re-used.

"For re-use of the masks, we have done some tests on both the masks and also the face shields," said CEO Larry Nichols.

"We are sending some samples back to Stanford Hospital for them to test to see if the face shields have degraded at that one, two, three, four, five times the normal sterilization dose," he said.

This makes Fremont rare in that it has people working during the pandemic, and companies are hiring.

Evolve foresees adding more than 100 employees in a month or two.

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The city has an ecosystem of 900 local suppliers to meet the need for sheet metal, parts and other inventory without interruption.

It's a strategy that Fremont's city leaders envisioned years ago, and it has paid off.

"We are so fortunate to be able to respond to this essential need and this critical demand that we see right now in our community," said Mayor Lily Mei. "We hope to be able to provide more in the ongoing time period to help solve this issue."

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