The COVID-19 epidemic is disrupting the nation’s medical facilities and individuals who work there. Consequently, they are facing shortages in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). In recent weeks these protective gears have become scarce and in short supply.
As a result, health care workers are being forced to ration their N95 masks. These are the masks the Center for Disease Control (CDC) provides maximum protection form the disease. While those who don’t have access to N95 masks are resorting to surgical masks.
Making Face Masks
In a bid to curb the shortage of these protective gear and stifle the infection rates, businesses and individuals are working towards bringing about homegrown solutions.
Among these are masks. And the nation needs an estimated 3.5 billion masks to cope with the outbreak this year alone. In response, apparel companies and fashion designers are working towards addressing the shortfall. They are doing so by retooling their production line to produce these essential protective gears.
Do It Yourself Gets in Vogue
The national shortage of N95 masks and depleting stock of surgical masks has induced creative solutions. Designers are also contributing towards the cause by making masks and experimenting with designs. One designer Michael Costello has created a washable face mask in a black, cotton-nylon stretch fabric. And has started working with manufacturers to make the masks available.
Crafters too have joined by setting up communities on social media like Facebook to create a community as well as provide DIY videos on how to produce PEPs such as Crafters Against COVID-19 Seattle. The call to arms seems to be helping reinvigorate American crafters and bringing back badly needed skills to communities.
For those who have a sewing machine and have forgotten, there are tutorials on how to make masks.
Something Vintage rentals have collected donated money and fabric, to make masks for medical professionals and hospitals. These events and rental company not only supply the masks but also coordinates volunteers to deliver the masks to hospitals. For those who want to make their own masks they offer free fabrics and tutorials. They are encouraging customers who can make face masks at home to donate to hospitals as well.
How are Businesses Reacting
As stocks of PEPs turn scarce a number of companies and retailers have shifted their operation. The goal is to help manufacture masks, gowns and other protective gear. Others are working with small business partners by producing masks and gowns to revitalizing US producers and suppliers. Gap and others like it have announced they will pivot their operations to produce much needed masks, scrubs, and gowns for healthcare professionals on the front lines.
Equally, there are many small businesses who are retooling their production lines to meet the growing demand for PEPs. Hatch Exhibits, a colorful displays and pop-up exhibition booths maker whose clients includes YouTube, Under Armour and Google is one of them. With cancellations on events, owner Chris McCormick looked inwards to look for solutions.
By designing and producing medical gowns and masks with the same type of materials and techniques they used for their products, he found out the company can contribute to the nation’s COVID response. Hatch Exhibits has collected donations to buy supplies for the masks and gowns to be donated to medical centers.
Hedley & Bennett aprons manufacturer, has developed the Wake Up & Fight Mask. This washable, reusable cotton mask is going to be available under the company’s ‘Buy 1, Give 1’ plan.
In the same manner Fanatics CEO, Michael Rubin has converted a factory that makes jerseys into one that makes masks and gowns for health workers. Part of the production will be for donations to medical facilities and first responders.
With the global supply chain challenged by the outbreak, homegrown solutions like these might help bring back jobs into the economy. As craftsmen are the soul of all small businesses providing them with much-needed support not only allows them to stay in business but also contributes to the fight against COVID-19.