As coronavirus cases start to overwhelm U.S. hospitals, American companies say they're starting to make face masks and other personal protective equipment critically needed by medical staff.
In Minnesota, the MyPillow company is refocusing 75 percent of its production to face masks for health care workers.
"We have capacity to make a lot of things at big rates and we’re going to be going hopefully from 10,000 units a day to 50,000 units a day in a very short period of time," CEO Mike Lindell told FOX 9 of Minneapolis-St. Paul.
The masks will go to hospitals in Minnesota and other states, he said.
MyPillow worked the Trump administration to get the proper design, Lindell told FOX 9.
In New Jersey, Stuart Carlitz, president and CEO of mattress company Eclipse International, said he made the decision to switch production to masks last week after hearing New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo say that state had a shortage and was paying high prices for masks.
“My first thought was that’s really terrible that people would take advantage of this time to profit,” he said, according to NJ.com.
He said he realized one of the materials used in face masks is also used in his mattresses. He ordered the other materials and is ready to start production.
The company is making an initial batch of 38,000 masks, which will be donated to a hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., where the factory is located.
“I’m not trying to sell masks,” Carlitz said. “Whether it’s a dollar apiece or four dollars apiece, that’s not going to change my business. I’m going to donate the masks.”
“I’m not trying to sell masks. Whether it’s a dollar apiece or four dollars apiece, that’s not going to change my business. I’m going to donate the masks.”
— Stuart Carlitz, president and CEO, Eclipse International
The Tablecloth Company in Paterson, N.J., decided to start making masks after requests from customers, including nursing homes where the virus can easily spread, according to NJ.com.
Los Angeles-based apron company Hedley &Bennett will also be putting its 30 factory employees to work on face masks. Owner Ellen Bennett said she was inspired after hearing fashion designer Christian Siriano had directed his seamstresses to start manufacturing them.
“I’ve always been a wake-up-and-fight kind of a girl. And I thought, ‘This is game time,’” Bennett said, according to Fast Company magazine.
Other American fashion brands like Hanes, Los Angeles Apparel and Michael Costello and Karla Colletto Swimwear are also asking their workers to start making masks.
Michigan-based Ford is also assisting General Electric Healthcare with ventilator production, according to Yahoo Finance.
"As America's largest producer of vehicles and top employer of autoworkers, Ford stands ready to help the administration in any way we can, including the possibility of producing ventilators and other equipment,” Ford said last week.