WNY companies hope to create masks for health care workers

LISTEN: Kohler Awning among the companies trying to help

Mike Baggerman
March 25, 2020 - 3:00 am
Photo courtesy of Kohler Awning

Photo courtesy of Kohler Awning

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – As supplies run thin for health care working battling this pandemic, small businesses in the area are hoping to do their part to contribute towards a solution.

Kohler Awning is one local business trying to help create masks for use by health care professionals.

“We’re trying to develop a prototype for either an N95 or procedural mask,” Jesse Kohler, President of Kohler Awning, said. “There seems to be a shortage of both of these items and we’d like to help the community out.”

They are physically cutting and sewing the fabric together to create upwards of 20 different prototypes using different fabrics at their Walden Avenue location.

“We just started this (on Sunday),” he said. “For us to get something up and running in less than 48 hours is pretty good.”

He said they’ve been in business for 95 years and wanted to do their part to benefit the community.

“We’re in this fight together,” he said. “Also, I have over 70 employees which I feel personally responsible for. We’re a family-run company. These people are like my family. If there’s anything I can do to keep some or all of them employed and keep them out of the unemployment line, I think that would be a great thing for the community and those individuals.”

If they get the green light from New York State on their mask prototype, Kohler said he hopes to eventually be able to make thousands of them per day.

HOW TO MAKE A MASK: JOANN FABRICS

Other companies are also trying to help health care workers:

According to the CDC, health care professionals might use homemade masks to care of COVID-19 patients as a last resort. However, health care professionals could use the masks in combination with a face shield that covers their entire front and sides of face. 

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