COVID-19 is a new infectious respiratory disease that was first reported back in December of last year. This new coronavirus species has caused a full pandemic, in which most countries have been severely affected for over six months now. Over 1 million deaths around the world can be attributed directly to the disease, and many more have been deeply affected regarding their health or economic safety.
One of the main situations to come from the pandemic has been the collapse of the healthcare system. A main concern has been the shortage of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE). Most countries weren’t prepared for a pandemic of this magnitude, and have experienced a scarcity of necessities like face shields, KN95 masks, N95 masks, and other medical supplies.
Some private companies have been stepping up to meet these new demands of medical supplies, particularly N95 masks, which are considered the most effective for virus protection. Today, we’ll talk about the new N95 mask facility in Jackson, Ohio from Phoenix Quality Manufacturing.
New Phoenix Quality Manufacturing facility for N95 masks in Ohio
To make sure the USA has enough medical PPE during the coronavirus pandemic, Phoenix Quality has opened a new facility for making N95 masks. Located in Jackson, Ohio, Phoenix Quality Manufacturing has the goal to produce 6 million N95 masks per month in this new facility, which will also serve as the company’s headquarters.
The project started construction back in July, transforming the former precious metals plant of Ohio into this new production facility for N95 masks. During a time in which N95 masks are scarce and they’re needed everywhere, the company decided to delve into the world of face coverings.
First, they want to focus on masks designed for civilians, and then they plan on moving into medical grade and surgical face masks, according to the Human Resources Director for the company. She also says they will be creating 40 new jobs to reach their goal of producing 6 million masks per month. These masks will be distributed locally, nationally, and internationally, if everything goes well.
They’ve stated this is a win-win situation, where new jobs are created, and a first necessity product is being made to supply the country’s needs. This tackles two major problems that have come from the pandemic: unemployment and PPE shortages. They have also expressed their desire to sustain this production, to hopefully never be in a position where PPE isn’t available everywhere.
The N95 masks, scheduled to start their production in November, are going to have a foam nose piece for comfort.
Shortages in the USA
Since the beginning of the pandemic, even before it hit the United States, a shortage of medical supplies was imminent. Experts were warning every country to take measures before the situation became critical, as it was already happening in some countries, where healthcare workers and first responders had to face the virus unprotected.
When the cases started to increase in March, the Department of Health and Human Services made a statement that frightened a lot of people: the country had around 1% of the supplies needed to face the virus. For this, one of the first measures to be implemented was the Defense Production Act of 1950.
This law authorizes the government to direct private companies to prioritize the domestic supply of certain necessary products. In this situation, this applied to companies that produced all sorts of medical PPE and hygiene supplies. Manufacturers of N95 masks, like 3M, started to increase their domestic production and to prioritize importation.
Experts calculated that around 300 million N95 masks would be needed by the fall, but this number hasn’t been reached yet. Shortages had been happening around the country during the summer, and they’re expected to still be present until 2021 or even 2022.
Some experts in the matter say the DPA was invoked too late into the pandemic, as it was a measure taken in April when the country was already two months into the pandemic. Measures to increase production had to be taken before cases started to increase. Experts also say it wasn’t taken aggressively enough, and the production didn’t, and won’t meet the needs of the country.
Why are N95 masks so important anyway?
N95 masks are also known as N95 respirators. They are a very specific type of respirator that can filter out harmful particles, including dust, smoke, and different types of viruses. They can protect people against the flu virus and the new coronavirus, that’s why they’re so coveted right now.
The term N95 refers to the mask's resistance to oil, which is none, and its filtration rate, which is 95%. This means the face mask can filter out at least 95% of all non-oil based particles in the air, trapping them in their filter, and preventing the user from inhaling them.
For this reason, N95 masks are much more effective and antiviral than reusable or even surgical masks. This is also why authorities like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urge the general public to leave these medical-grade masks to healthcare workers and first responders, who need more protection.
Whether it’s a disposable face mask or a reusable one, you can find them for sale online. You can buy them in bulk or wholesale, and even in a smaller size for kids. You can also find reputable brands and models, including 3M N95 masks like the 3M 8210 and 3M 8511. Anyone who uses a face covering is doing their part in this difficult situation.