As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, historic American fashion retailer Brooks Brothers announced on Monday that it will begin manufacturing up to 150,000 surgical masks per day in its U.S.-based factories.
In response to an urgent call from the White House and other state and local leaders, the company is currently in the process of converting its factories in New York, North Carolina, and Massachusetts from manufacturing ties, shirts and suits to making surgical masks and gowns.
The fashion retailer has been in contact with federal and state officials, as well as task forces, major hospital systems and other organizations over the past two weeks and has now partnered with Stop the Spread, a coalition of U.S.-based volunteer CEOs working to support the government’s response to the Covid-19 crisis.
Brooks Brothers are also collaborating with leading universities with expertise in textiles and technology in order to develop mask prototypes and is working closely with the FDA to ensure approval of the masks as quickly as possible.
In order to manufacture masks and gowns, the staff at the retailer’s factories will be returning to work following a two-week precautionary self-quarantine period. The company states that it is following public health guidance closely and will be implementing federal guidelines concerning on-site hygiene and social-distancing in its manufacturing facilities.
“We consider this a duty, and part of our DNA at Brooks Brothers,” commented Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio in a release. “These are challenging times that are impacting us all. We are deeply grateful to the medical personnel at the frontlines who are fighting the pandemic, and we are honored to do our part and join our peers in retail to provide protective masks that our health care system critically needs.”
This isn’t the first time that Brooks Brothers has sprung into action in response to a national crisis in its 200-year history. The company supported the Red Cross Society in 1898 and has also manufactured U.S. military uniforms since the Civil War.