In a bid to try to keep its textile industry afloat amid the coronavirus economic shutdown, the Haitian government has authorized the reopening of seven factories that will be making protective medical gear.

Three of the factories already make washable hospital scrubs for the U.S. market, and Haiti is seeking a percentage of the garments for the country’s own use. The other four factories will switch from sewing cotton T-shirts for the U.S. export market to making face masks for Haitians. 

Made from cotton and reusable, the masks are not the medical-grade, snug-fitting N-95 disposable face masks that hospitals are so desperately seeking for healthcare workers. Rather, they are a reusable cloth design inspired by a California T-shirt maker, and part of a budding effort in Haiti by individual designers, nonprofits and the boys and girls scouts to offer Haitians some level of protection in the fight against the spread of the flu-like virus.

“We have hundreds of tailors, seamstresses and volunteers who are willing to work to get masks to the general public, and more importantly to people in need through this ‘10 Million Masks 4 Haiti’ challenge,” said Alex Georges, coordinator of the Coronavirus Crisis Cell for the Scouts of Haiti, which on March 7 also launched a challenge to get hand washing stations around the country. “We really want to have masks, not disposable masks, but washable masks.” Continue reading

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