With Masks in Short Supply, Local Companies Start Sewing
Sonia Smith-Kang posted a call out on Facebook announcing her boutique children's clothing business in downtown Los Angeles was pivoting to designing masks to help protect first responders. The next morning she had nearly 400 orders and pleas for more.
The inspiration to alter her business came from conversations with her husband, a doctor who works in the intensive care unit at Dignity Health - Northridge Hospital Medical Center. "When he would come home, he said 'there's a shortage of masks," said Smith-Kang, a former nurse and founder of Mixed Up Clothing, which makes clothes that draw on cultural themes. "This really validated what we were hearing."
Gov. Gavin Newsom said Wednesday on Twitter that although the state has delivered masks, his office is still scrambling.
UPDATE: California has distributed 24.5 million N95 masks. We have now ordered 100 million new masks.
But it isn't enough. We're working around the clock to secure the personal protective equipment needed for those on the frontlines of #COVID19.
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) March 25, 2020
"California has distributed 24.5 million N95 masks. We have now ordered 100 million new masks. But it isn't enough. We're working around the clock to secure the personal protective equipment needed for those on the frontlines of #COVID19," he said.
With masks and other supplies becoming scarcer to health care professionals, Los Angeles officials earlier this week called on manufacturers to convert their operations to provide needed products from masks and gloves to swabs. Several have already stepped up including SpaceX. Santa Monica-based Figs, which produces scrubs, said Wednesday that it would be donating 30,000 sets to hospitals. And there's a slew more of sewers and other groups preparing masks.
Smith-Kang said she can only produce about 1,000 masks a day but she wanted to do what she could. The masks come in two different patterns, one with a beak for the nose and the other rectangular. All follow guidelines for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and have a pocket for filters. Individuals can buy one and the second will be donated.
The change in her business has been a relief. Smith-Kang has been able to bring back sewing contractors she released earlier this month. So far, she's had almost 800 orders and pleas from nurses to get masks.
"If I can do anything, I am going to do it," she said.
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Coronavirus Updates: Mercy Hospital Ship Arrives in L.A., Gates Warns About COVID-19 Fight, SMMUSD Closes Indefinitely
Here are the latest headlines regarding how the novel coronavirus is impacting the Los Angeles startup and tech communities. Sign up for our newsletter and follow dot.LA on Twitter for the latest updates.
- Coronavirus cases surge in L.A. County, 5 deaths reported
- Navy hospital ship Mercy enters the Port of Los Angeles
- Bill Gates warns there's "no middle ground" in coronavirus fight
- Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District tells parents it will remain closed indefinitely
The novel coronavirus may have forced people into physical isolation, but it has not stopped people from trying to romantically connect with others. It appears, in fact, that love in the time of COVID-19 is virtually booming.
That's according to data provided by online dating app Tinder. The West Hollywood-based company says that starting mid-March -- as the numbers of those infected with the novel virus began to climb and many people were ordered to stay home -- daily messages were up 10-15% compared to the week prior in the U.S.
The glorified version of a nation at war evokes people coming together, contributing to something larger than themselves however they can, and collectively willing a victory in pursuit of a worthy cause.
Though the coronavirus is no traditional enemy, this feels like war. The battles rage in hospital rooms, biomedical labs and ICUs. The heroic soldiers don scrubs and wield microscopes. Meanwhile, the cloistered public tries to keep calm and carry on.