N95 Facemask Contingency Plan

A nurse wearing a flat bandana around her face

How we’re helping amid coronavirus pandemic

It’s scary out there right now.  The outbreak of the coronavirus has the country shaken as businesses shutter, schools close, parks and beaches are closed off from the public, and people are put on lockdown.

But don’t fret.

Planet Apparel is making moves to help our community against the fear and uncertainty caused by Covid-19.

Protecting our Employees

First and foremost our company culture calls for the health and safety of our team.

We instituted “work from home” measures early on in the outbreak of coronavirus by making sure our employees had the right equipment like having dual monitors for designers to work remotely.  Planet Apparel implemented these procedures with a focus on maintaining employee jobs and to ensure their safety and security.

The Medical Facemask Shortage

Like many Americans, our owners Holly and Heather Treviño saw several news reports on the shortages of PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) that nurses, doctors, and first responders are facing across the country.  The slow response of the federal government and the chaos of states, hospitals, and cities competing with one another on the open market for equipment has exacerbated an already alarming problem.

The dwindling supply of PPE and more specifically surgical face masks and N95 respirator masks compelled Holly and Heather to come up with a new solution to expand their clientele and offer added protection against the virus.

There are already many stories of volunteers sewing masks by hand and companies pivoting to manufacturing them to fill widening gap as quickly as possible as healthcare providers hurtle towards surge capacity.

Instead of trying to add to that supply, Holly and Heather came up the idea of prolonging the lifespan of facemasks by wearing bandanas as an extra layer of protection on top.

Local and National Outreach

Part of the challenge was finding the right people to talk to about offering their services.  Holly and Heather began their canvassing efforts and reached out to officials across the United States including Boston, Dallas, Orlando, and Miami where there are upticks in Covid-19 cases.

In some instances there was pushback where some agencies did not see the need for bandanas.  They would say “we need masks” and weren’t interested in entertaining the idea.

San Diego County previously reported that that they had enough masks however officials saw an effective solution and were quick to make it part of their back-up plan.

On March 19th, 2020 San Diego County made a volume order of 90,000 for about $97,000 bandanas as a contingency plan to deal with the pending threat of a facemask shortage.

Many local clinics in San Diego are having trouble procuring the necessary protective gear and as a member of community, Holly was thrilled to see that San Diego stepped up and made a bulk order.

San Diego County was proactive rather than reactive like other cities and municipalities facing a shrinking supply.  In times like these, hesitation and not thinking “outside of the box” can have a cost to public health and lives.

Planet Apparel foresees additional orders from San Diego County as the pandemic grows.  We’ve also started reaching out to grocery stores and other local businesses that are still operational during the quarantine to offer bandanas to workers as a form of protection.

Educating the Healthcare Community and the Public

Our goal is to educate healthcare professionals and government officials to show how our bandanas can be helpful during this pandemic in preserving mask supply.

As healthcare workers have become increasingly frustrated with the situation, the CDC recently lifted restrictions and released new guidelines.  The updates allow for extended use of facemasks and limited re-use of facemasks as options. In more extreme cases the use of makeshift masks like bandanas can be used as a last resort with the additional recommendation for them to be used with a protective face shield.

Our bandanas are not a substitute for PPE but can aid in the preservation of medical facemasks by wearing them over the mask as an added barrier for healthcare professionals that have to re-use a limited supply.

We offer two types of bandanas.  One is the traditional square fabric that can be tied around the face.  The other is a “tubular” version that can be worn like a scarf and pulled up over the nose and mouth.  Both can be used with facemasks or by itself for non-medical essential workers.

There are four main focuses for use of our bandanas:

  • As a protective measure to extend the lifespan of N95 facemasks and other masks.
  • Patient use while waiting in line at hospitals, ERs, and other medical facilities.
  • Protection for essential workers such as grocery store staff, delivery people, and postal carriers.
  • Personal protection for the public to minimize face-touching and to cover coughs and sneezes.

Depending on internal procedures, healthcare facilities can dispose of them after use or sanitize them in industrial washing machines so they can be reused along with their PPE

We recommend the polyester bandanas as a priority since they’re more tightly woven and less absorbent than the cotton ones that soak up fluids from coughs and sneezes more easily.

At Planet Apparel we posses a large network of distributors and manufacturers across the country to make orders and delivery as easy as possible for communities in need.

Hoarding of medical PPE, the exponential growth rate of Covid-19 cases, and daunting reports of expired equipment from FEMA has caused a lot of worry and fear.

We offer some hope in these trying times by doing our part to protect public and employee health, finding solutions to problems that impact our health system, and educating those who find value in our products.

Those interested in our bandanas can place orders through our Covid-19 Contingency Plan page here:

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