As companies shift their focus from business-as-usual to help supply healthcare workers with necessary PPE, Kitsbow, a cycling apparel company based in North Carolina, has decided to chip in. Their business emphasizes made-to-order products which allows them to make changes quickly to their production process. The board of Kitsbow agreed to began producing masks on March 19th and, since then, orders have skyrocketed.
CEO David Billstrom says the company can produce about 30,000 masks a day and they’ve ordered enough material to make face shields in the hundreds of thousands. Kitsbow is using material it already owns along with a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter sleeve located inside the mask. The extra HEPA filter is removable and can block more airborne diseases (almost 100 percent) compared to the N95 masks. N95 masks can only block 95 percent of particulates larger than .3 microns.
Currently, they’re only supplying medical workers and other front line responders with the necessary PPE in bulk (40 unit cases). These masks can be washed between uses and the HEPA filters can be removed. This helps address the limited supply issue hospitals and first responders were concerned about at the beginning of this pandemic. They recommend keeping the masks in an airtight plastic back for at last 24 hours before re-using to allow time for sterilization. They offer face masks in four different sizes (S, M, L, XL) and can be adjusted for greater comfortability. And although these masks seem like a Godsend, they are not FDA approved as a legitimate medical device as of yet.