SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTGS) — The owner and CEO of Nine Line Apparel has shifted from making t-shirts to making medical masks for doctors and nurses during the coronavirus outbreak, according to FOX News.
Tyler Merritt is a former Army officer and the son of a nurse, so he understands the urgent need for properly-fitted masks.
“I'm an engineer, I'm also a former Army officer, I'm also a member of the special operations community, I'm also the son of a person who will die if he contracts this, I'm also the son of a nurse, I'm also the father of children who could potentially die,” Merritt told FOX News. “So this is not about money, this is about coming together, cutting through the red tape, this is also about identifying those horrible, massive conglomerates that are hoarding materials.”
Due to the shortage of masks across the nation, some hospitals have resorted to using ultraviolet light to kill any germs left on personal protective equipment (PPE). This allows the N95 masks- a tight-fitting mask that filters out particles associated with various types of viruses, including the coronavirus- to be reused. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends wearing surgical masks, including the N95 mask once.
For many doctors, throwing out these masks are not an option since many hospitals only receive a small supply. 3M creates the N95 masks, which have now taken over hospitals, but the cost to produce those masks have skyrocketed during the pandemic. Merritt told FOX News, “those masks that once cost 70 cents are now being charged $7 per mask.”
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Merritt is calling on the government to cut the red tape in order to produce masks to the people on the front lines. He points out that there are two machines in the nation that have the ability to produce masks at a rapid pace.
“All resources need to be directed towards that machine to make as much of that melt-blown material as possible and then disseminating it to as many manufacturing facilities around the country as possible,” he told FOX News.
Merritt has already made and given out masks to those who need them, at the exact same cost he is getting the material for.
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“They sent me 2,000 masks for free, I sent them out for free. They sent me tens of thousands of masks at 50 cents per mask, I'm selling them for 50 cents per mask,” he told FOX News. “I’m trying to broker these deals between the private sector and the government at zero cost because I want to return to making T-shirts. I do not want to be in the mask business.”
Privately owned businesses and the general public have banned together to make masks for doctors and nurses treating patients with the virus.