HanesBrands And Other Companies To Make Masks Needed To Combat COVID-19
During a press conference on Saturday, United States President Donald Trump announced the HanesBrands clothing company would be retrofitting factories to make masks for medical officials combating COVID-19 (Coronavirus, 2019). “By way of example, Hanes … is retrofitting manufacturing capabilities in large sections of the plants to produce masks and they’re in the process right now,” the President said during the briefing.
Despite conflicting reports on whether or not the masks will be the most effective N-95 protective masks, a company spokesperson told New York Times (NYT) that the masks would not be of the N-95 variety. The company provided WFMY News with a statement, “The dedication and expertise of HanesBrands supply chain and R&D employees allowed the company to progress from preliminary discussions with federal officials to product development, approval and startup of production in less than one week, a remarkable feat.”
“The company expects to ramp up to production of 1.5 million masks weekly, and the consortium as a whole is expected to ramp up to production of 5 million to 6 million masks weekly using HanesBrands’ design and patterns,” the statement continued.
The statement outlined that Hanes would be working with Parkdale Mills America, Fruit of the Loom, SanMar, Beverly Knits, the National Council of Textile Organizations, and other apparel companies to meet the necessary production needs.
HanesBrands is also using its facilities in other parts of the world to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak.
Other companies around the United States are also repurposing their operations to help produced masks and personal protective equipment during the outbreak. “Los Angeles Apparel is making surgical masks; it will on Monday begin making hospital gowns as well. Dov Charney, the company’s founder and the former head of American Apparel, hopes his 150,000-square-foot factory can produce 300,000 masks and 50,000 gowns in a week,” reports NYT.
The NYT piece also states fashion designer Christian Siriano has tasked his to 10 seamstresses in New York to produce a few thousand masks per week. Also, swimwear company Karla Colletto is reported as retooling their factory in Virginia to produce personal protective equipment (PPE), to help with national shortages.
While President Trump has signed the 1950 Defense Production Act but has said he has no plans to use it unless the United States enters a ‘worst-case scenario.’ The piece of legislation gives the federal government power to direct private companies in times where national security needs are in question. A portion of the law is below.
`SEC. 2. DECLARATION OF POLICY.
“(a) Findings.–Congress finds that–
“(1) the security of the United States is dependent on the
ability of the domestic industrial base to supply materials and
services for the national defense and to prepare for and respond
to military conflicts, natural or man-caused disasters, or acts
of terrorism within the United States;
“(2) to ensure the vitality of the domestic industrial
base, actions are needed–
“(A) to promote industrial resources preparedness
in the event of domestic or foreign threats to the
security of the United States;
“(B) to support continuing improvements in
industrial efficiency and responsiveness;
“(C) to provide for the protection and restoration
of domestic critical infrastructure operations under
emergency conditions; and
“(D) to respond to actions taken outside of the
United States that could result in reduced supplies of
strategic and critical materials, including energy,
necessary for national defense and the general economic
well-being of the United States;
Common Dreams blogger Miles Mogulescu argues the United States is already in such a state despite several companies volunteering to alter their business operations.
With an impending shortage of tens of thousands of life-saving ventilators, testing kits, protective equipment for health care workers, and other critical medical supplies, putting this law into effect would enable the Federal government to order American companies to convert to mass producing and distributing this equipment on an emergency basis, as they converted from making cars to tanks within weeks after Pearl Harbor.
Other countries are already rushing to build more ventilators. The U.K. has already asked carmakers Rolls-Royce and Jaguar to make ventilators. In Germany, where there is currently a surplus of ventilators, the government has ordered 10,000 more ventilators from Draegerwerk AG, the company’s largest single order ever. American automakers, including Ford and G.M., have already offered to shift manufacturing capacity to medical equipment.
With the United States being at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the need for additional equipment will continue to escalate until a viable vaccine is ready for public consumption.