As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the United States, a problematic shortage of personal protective equipment (known as PPE) has emerged as one of the most preventable issues of the crisis. Hospital workers around the country are sharing stories about having to improvise, using everything from swimming goggles to trash bags as ways to protect themselves.
Because of this dire need, many fashion brands have already stepped up to aid hospital workers through entirely shifting their manufacturing to create things needed by hospitals. In New York, designer Christian Siriano has donated thousands of masks to hospitals in the state by completely restructuring his business for the foreseeable future. Outside of high-end designers, the Skilled Laborers Brigade was created as a way to bring together sewers currently out of work (like costume designers and seamstresses) to make the equipment needed by hospitals.
But while masks have seemed to be the focus of most of these efforts — for people both in the medical fields and essential workers in places like grocery stores or warehouses — this week, another urgent need is emerging. Julia Berk-Krauss, a doctor at the Downstate Medical Center in New York, is putting out the call for fashion designers to start making gowns. "I am a resident physician at Downstate Medical Center, one of three COVID-only hospitals in NYC. We are to run out of protective gowns in one week and will then be provided with ponchos," she wrote in the statement. "We are asking designers, seamstresses, tailors, and crafters isolated at home with sewing machine to please help us."
In an email interview with InStyle, Berk-Krauss further explained the situation writing, "The situation here, as at other institutions in the city, is dire. We are quickly running out of personal protective equipment, including protective gowns, N95 masks, and face shields." She continued, "We were recently informed that there are only enough gowns for one provider per day. Gowns are extremely important for protecting providers from bodily fluids and infectious particles. Without this protective layer, we are more likely to get coronavirus particles on our skin and clothing, which can then infect us, other patients, providers, and even the public and our families when we leave the hospital."
Already, some manufacturers are answering the call and raising money to help.The Garment District for Gowns created a Go Fund Me to cover the cost of materials that will help make these gowns. Brands like Wrangler have converted their factories with a goal to create thousands of gowns and indivduals are producing and sending out gowns as quick as they can.
Compassion never goes out of fashion. . . Thank you @dr.mauriciogonzalez , @alejandro_cardevilla, @danman1962, @metropolitanhospital_ and all the front line medical workers for your tireless dedication to saving lives. . . Let’s do OUR part by #stayinghome and making sure members of our healthcare community feel adequately protected. Without this proper gear, they are exposing themselves and their loved ones. NOW is a crucial moment. Please share our Gofundme so that we can continue to protect our healthcare heroes as quickly, safely, and effectively as possible #gownsforheroes #getmeppe #spreadthewordnotthevirus #fightcovid19 #supporthefrontline #protectthefrontlines #thankshealthheroes #metropolitanhospital #flattenthecurve
A post shared by Garment District for Gowns (@garmentdistrictforgowns) on Apr 4, 2020 at 5:03am PDT
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