Austin Monthly (4-2-2020)

As the coronavirus has spread throughout the country, one of the most disturbing trends has been the lack of access to basic medical tools like latex gloves and face masks. The fallout from this shortage has been especially harrowing for healthcare professionals like doctors and nurses, many of whom have reportedly had to resort to wearing a single mask over the course of an entire shift—a far cry from typical protocol. To help increase access to these vital tools for hospital workers and vulnerable Austinites, several local businesses have transformed their production processes to help address the city’s dire need for face masks. Here, a rundown of these companies and how you can aid their efforts.

SPIbelt

Creators of light, convenient pouches to carry small items while on-the-go, SPIbelt has converted its production process to create public grade masks made of high-tech polyester and spandex. Founder Kim Overton, who suffers from Bronchiectasis (a lung condition that can lead to severe respiratory complications), says taking this step to ensure Austinites have access to safe, reliable masks is a no-brainer. “We have the people, machines, skillset, materials, and time. It’s critical we all do our part to help prevent the spread of the virus,” she says. “It’s extremely important to me individually to help slow things down, and like the rest of the world, I’m eager to get back to living without fear for mine and my family’s health.” In addition to partnering with Austin Emergency Clinics to create a mask exchange program that will get medical-grade N95 masks to local healthcare professionals, SPIbelt’s masks are available on its website

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