The sports uniform manufacturing company, Fanatics, has changed their Pennsylvania factory instead to produce hospital gowns and masks for health care workers who are in dire need of supplies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fanatics Chief Executive Michael Rubin announced Thursday that the company is working with Major League Baseball (MLB) to produce medical supplies, which they plan to immediately distribute free of charge to health care workers in Pennsylvania.
“The COVID-19 crisis has forced our country to be more collaborative, innovative and strategic than ever before,” Rubin said in a statement obtained by Newsweek. “Because the demand for masks and dresses has surged, we are fortunate to have worked with Major League Baseball to find unique ways to support our frontline workers in the struggle to stem the virus, which desperately needs important resources.”
Vital medical supplies including masks, gowns, gloves and disinfectants are very limited due to the pandemic. People who are stockpiling supplies, along with people who hope to profit from the crisis by gouging prices, have helped force some health workers to treat patients without protective equipment.
Rubin said that around 100 workers had already begun producing the first batch of supply, with plans to expand the reach of projects outside Pennsylvania.
“We have begun production of up to one million masks and cloth gowns used to make official MLB jerseys and then donate to hospitals and emergency management personnel throughout Pennsylvania with the aim of expanding into New York and New Jersey,” Rubin said.
The company has produced official uniforms for MLB players before shifting focus during the crisis. MLB Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr. agreed to stop producing uniforms and the league offered to partner with Fanatics to cover production costs.
“We hope this effort can play a role in coming together as a community to help us through this challenging situation,” Manfred said.
Rubin took to Twitter late Thursday to deliver the news, saying he dreamed of making masks and dresses last week before public officials in Pennsylvania approached him with the same idea.
“Woke up in the middle of the night last week with the idea of changing our @Fanatics factory in PA that made the official @MLB T-shirt a facility that made masks and dresses that were badly needed and then donated them to help fight this terrible virus,” tweeted Rubin.
Woke up at midnight last week with the idea of changing our @Fanatics factory in PA that made the official @MLB T-shirt a facility that made masks and dresses that were badly needed and then donated them to help fight this terrible virus. pic.twitter.com/r6FAxUdlgH
– Michael Rubin (@MichaelGRubin) March 26, 2020
The image included in the tweet shows the mask and the striped dress, said to be made from the same material that the company used to make the New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies jerseys, showing that the mask might not fit the N95 respirator mask specifications. preferred by public health experts. However, they tend to provide protection without anything else.
Important protective equipment such as masks and hospital gowns are in short supply due to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, potentially putting health care workers at great risk.