U.S. retailers shift production to health equipment

U.S. retailers shift production to health equipment

01 avril 2020 | PAR O NEALL Libby

With the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the United States surpassing both Italy and China, hospitals find themselves short of the equipment needed to protect their healthcare workers. The United States Advisory Board announced on March 27th that the country is scarce on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

The PPE needed for healthcare workers fighting on the frontlines against Coronavirus are facemasks, eye protection, and gowns. Without this equipment, caregivers are at high risk of contracting the deadly virus.

Many clothing retailers have stepped in to help address the PPE shortage facing the U.S. The outdoor clothing and gear manufacturer Eddie Bauer started making N95 face masks to address the shortage in Washington state, where their headquarters are located. 

Neiman Marcus, a luxury department store partnered with Joann, a fabric and craft firm. Together they are fabricating masks, scrubs, and gowns to be shipped to hospitals.

While the articles made by the partnership between Neiman Marcus and Joann as well as Eddie Bauer are not medical-grade, their use is encouraged to supplement and prolong the life of medical-grade equipment.

Known for their high-end winter coats, Canada Goose is also among those making protective health equipment, which they donate to local health-care workers.

HanesBrands, responsible for the production of comfort clothing in the U.S. was contracted by the government to produce surgical masks. HanesBrands’ masks are not a perfect match to the standard N95, but they have been approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). Fashion brand Ralph Lauren is also producing masks that have been approved by the FDA along with isolation gowns.

With the material typically used to make their dog beds, L.L. Bean is making masks that are being tested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before distributing to hospitals.

Fashion company Gap is working with hospitals to supply PPE using its global connections. Likewise, the company is working towards manufacturing PPEs.

Many sportswear companies have also joined the fight against Coronavirus including Nike, New Balance, Under Armor, and Fanatics.

Other fashion retailers, whether their typical production is luxury, affordable, or sports apparel, are expected to lend a hand as more hospitals each day are faced with PPE shortages.


Visual: All creative commons / Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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