Hickey Freeman, a clothier synonymous with Rochester, will convert its factory in the city manufacture protective face masks for the medical staff at Rochester General Hospital.
The decision by the company to do so comes as private industries have announced plans to change their production efforts to medical supplies in an effort to turn back the coronavirus pandemic and shore up flagging medical supplies.
“We have hundreds of the best sewing machine operators in the country. When Rochester General made the request, of course we answered the call. We will do whatever it takes,” said Stephen Granovsky, the company’s CEO. “This is a small contribution compared to the health care workers we are helping protect.”
Rochester General Hospital serves 200,000 residents and runs through 15,000 face masks a day.
Medical staffs around the country and in New York have raised concerns the shortages of masks, gowns and other protective equipment will lead to a faster spread of the virus, especially among the health care community.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has urged private industries to take similar steps, including the manufacturing of additional medical equipment like ventilators, which auto manufactures are now committing to as their plants cease making cars during the crisis.
But the governor has also urged President Donald Trump’s administration to use the Defense Production Act and require private businesses to do so in order to speed up production amid a coming wave of hospitalizations due to the virus.
Cuomo on Tuesday said he expects that wave to crest as early as 14 days from now.