CANTON, Md. — Right now there is a national shortage on personal protective equipment for healthcare providers and first responders.
"There’s kind of this grassroots movement where people are making masks," said Laurie Imhoff, co-owner of Charm City Marine Canvas.
Laurie and her husband, Marvin, saw the need online and decided to do their part.
"Just seeing the need for it and realize we could have an impact and could be doing something so I guess that was the motivation to be able to do something that was helpful," Marvin said.
This time of year is typically their busy season but because of the coronavirus there haven't been many new jobs coming in so they have a little more time on their hands. Financially they're doing alright, at least for now. Marvin said they work all winter to prepare for the spring.
"We already have taken in deposits and have a back log out until the end of May/June so we have that little bit of buffer," said Marvin.
So since they're able to stay afloat, they wanted to put their energy in something positive during this difficult time.
"Others are in far worse positions than us so we’re just trying to pay it forward," said Laurie. Marvin added, "when you’re in the position to help it just seems like there’s no other choice right?You need to do your part!"
So far they've made dozens of masks using a template from Industrial Fabricator Association International and modified it a bit. Laurie said, "my friend who’s an obstetrician has complained about the ear things being uncomfortable so we made them a little bit different."
The CDC states the N95 masks are ideal because they know how well they can protect you. The homemade masks are really a last resort, which is what many people are having to use since there is a shortage. The CDC recommends all homemade masks are worn with a face shield. That's why the Imhoff famoly wanted to make those too.
"It’s basically three components. This clear vinyl, this piece of foam and this stretchy elastic foam," said Marvin. He added, "the shields are a lot easier to put togetehr. There's a lot less sewing."
They finished 60 shields in one day that are being taken to Johns Hopkins. Their goal is to make about 200 more and then take them to wherever is needed. They need a little more help when it comes to the masks. They can cut the fabric very quickly but only have one sewing machine so that takes a lot of time. If anyone wants to give them fabric to cut and then take the material home to sew, they would love your help. You can call them at (410) 971-7189 or email them at email@example.com.
The Imhoff couple tells me they're grateful to help but disappointed it's come to this.
"It's concerning the conditions that they're working in and it's scary. Anything we can do to keep pur medical providers safe right now. If they're sick we're in a lot of trouble," said Laurie. "It’s just kind of shocking how our resources for the things that they need so hard to come by."
The Governor's Office stated any manufacturer of personal protective equipment is permitted to remain open during the stay at home order issue on Monday, March 30.