With the continued shortage of life-saving medical gear during the COVID-19 crisis, private companies are stepping up to the plate to manufacture supplies themselves. Ford and GM have volunteered their facilities in the race to produce ventilators, while fashion labels Ralph Lauren and Christian Siriano are putting their sewing machines to use to make masks. Now, Los Angeles-based furniture purveyor Whom Home is enlisting the help of its 300,000-square-foot factory to produce much-needed face masks and face shields for America's most at-risk medical workers.
As spread of the pandemic overwhelms healthcare facilities, many medical workers are wondering where they can obtain the much sought after personal protective equipment (PPE) that they — and their patients — depend on. Whom Home is answering the call, pivoting to move production from sustainable furniture and home décor to masks and shields.
Whom hopes to get the word out particularly to retirement homes, hospice and home care workers — the smaller facilities that may not have the same resources as larger hospitals, but nevertheless have a dire need to source safe, reliable and cost-effective equipment. They are the most vulnerable, especially in COVID-19 hotspots like New York City, New Orleans, and Seattle.
"It's the right thing to do," said Whom Home Founder Jonathan Bass, who plans to offer the masks and shields affordably. Price gouging in PPE supply chains has resulted in prohibitively expensive materials, especially for smaller, independent healthcare companies and retirement homes.
Repurposing many of the materials from the factory's normal operations, the reusable masks are made from double-layered, tightly woven upholstery fabric and are fully washable. While not medical-grade, they pass the "blow out" test — a person is unable to blow out a lit candle while wearing the mask. The CDC recommends wearing even non-medical cloth to prevent transmission of the novel coronavirus, and as many medical professionals are now saying, "Something is better than nothing." Frequent washing is suggested.
As of Monday, April 22, production of the masks is already underway with its first deliveries expected within the week. Face shields are available to order and will be delivered the following week. All are produced in Whom Home's factory in San Luis, Mexico where workers wear masks and gloves and must observe 6 feet of social distancing by law. For more information and to order, visit whomhome.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org.