Local bike bag and apparel maker Chrome Industries calls their retail stores “Hubs”. Now those hubs — including their location in Old Town — are the center of a new effort to help battle coronavirus infections.
Chrome announced today they’re galvanizing their global legion of fans around a new mission: to help fill the nationwide gap in N95 masks for healthcare workers. (*Note: N95 masks require special material. Please see update below for more about this.)
“There is a basic need on the front lines, and our community has an opportunity to help,” said Chrome Industries President Steve McCallion in a statement from the company today.
(Step-by-step instructions in video from Chrome below)
Instead of just making masks, Chrome has provided crafty home-bound folks with the design, pattern and instructions to do it themselves. If you’re interested in helping out, email firstname.lastname@example.org to get all the information you need. Chrome, who moved their headquarters to Portland from San Francisco in 2017, is coordinating with other store locations in New York City, San Francisco and Chicago to collect and distribute the masks.
A friend from Chrome tells me it’s important to note that the company isn’t trying to replace authorized personal protective equipment (PPE), they are just trying to respond to the current crisis.
In related news, cycling apparel company Kitsbow (you might recall the nice things I said about one of their shirts after a ride last summer) is also joining the PPE-making effort. The company announced today they’re making reusable face masks and face shields from their new factory in North Carolina.
According to Kitsbow their first batch of face shields have been shipped to a medical clinic in Salem. Below is a photo of surgeons from Willamette Ear Nose Throat – River Road Surgery Center wearing the first batch of shields.
UPDATE, 3/25 at 9:55 am: Several readers contacted us with concerns that only masks made with special N95 material will prevent virus infections. We contacted a Chrome representative about this and their reply is below:
“Chrome is going with CDC recommendations available on their Crisis Capacity page under the heading of HCP (Health Care Professionals) Use of homemade masks: “In settings where facemasks are not available, HCP might use homemade masks (e.g., bandana, scarf) for care of patients with COVID-19 as a last resort. However, homemade masks are not considered PPE, since their capability to protect HCP is unknown. Caution should be exercised when considering this option. Homemade masks should ideally be used in combination with a face shield that covers the entire front (that extends to the chin or below) and sides of the face.”
The efficacy of homemade masks ranges from 50% upward depending on fabric types and layering. Chrome recognizes that this is not a replacement for N95 masks, but they also have specific requests from local providers, so they are contributing as requested. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and they recognize that many in the artist/maker community have been laid off from service industry “day jobs” and may have time to contribute.”
***Browse all our coronavirus coverage here.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
— Get our headlines delivered to your inbox.
— Support this independent community media outlet with a one-time contribution or monthly subscription.