Last week GA businesses were challenged by state and local officials to identify unique solutions to the impending facemask shortages facing our healthcare system.
PPE (personal protective equipment), specifically surgical masks and N95 masks are in critically low supply. To put it into perspective, the melt-blown fabric is required to effectively filter 95% of particles exposed to a wearer.
These masks protect our first responders, doctors, and nurses from breathing in droplets generated from an infected patient who coughs or sneezes in their vicinity.
Due to their critical shortage, doctors and nurses are now forced to reuse these otherwise disposable masks. In addition to the shortage of this mask, surgical masks designed to help reduce the spread of germs from the wearer to others are also in critical need.
It is now estimated that the US will require 1.7 to 3 billion masks in the coming months with a current supply chain that may be able to provide only a few million.
As of yesterday our order of 1.5M masks from China at a cost of $2.5 per mask was rejected for a higher offer from an Italian based brokerage.
US based N95 supplier 3M currently outsources all manufacturing to China who has recently taken over their facilities making us reliant upon the socialist regime to provide PPE for our citizens. To put this into perspective, masks were once priced at 70 cents per mask.
Price gouging has increased that cost 1000% and continues to go up by the day. Based on our proposals and projections, NL believes we can get these prices to under a dollar while putting hundreds of US citizens back to work.
While this is not the time to debate the idiocracy of relying on foreign manufacturing to keep our doctors and nurses safe, it is a time to propose solutions and act quickly to remedy the problem.
Nine Line has dedicated all its resources to coordinate a multitude of options to fix the supply chain issue. First and foremost we have begun production and testing of masks made of apparel fabric.
Various types of fabric blends will be tested with antimicrobial solutions that could potentially meet the requirements of FDA certification. Those masks are in the process of testing but that testing must be expedited. Simultaneously we are working with German manufacturers of the machines required to produce the meltblown fabric that has become an increasingly lucrative commodity.
While the purchase price of the fabric last year was only $6,000 per ton, the current price has skyrocketed to over ten times that rate and is climbing by the day.
Now is not the time to be price gouging but that is exactly what Chinese manufacturers are doing. Unfortunately, even if we are able to get an exception to policy from the state department to have German engineers travel to the US to assemble the machinery, the fastest they can create a machine is 12 weeks and transportation is expected to take an additional 8 weeks.
As a former Air Mission Commander in the Special Operations community, I am aware of ways to expedite transportation for mission-critical assets and am confident that with government assistance we could have a fully operational manufacturing facility in the next 6-7 weeks. This would require extreme coordination between Secretary of State, FDA, and US based manufacturers to accomplish such a lofty goal.
The main takeaway from this notice is that the Federal and State government are fully aware they need the innovation and technical expertise of the private sector.
What the private sector needs is one point of contact authorized to make quick decisions.
The machinery required to become self-reliant to provide PPE should have been purchased months ago. If the debate continues for weeks, the problem will become exponentially worse.
Nine Line and it’s US manufacturing partners like Bella Canvas are prepared to shift all operations to produce 10M plus masks within the coming weeks but WE NEED government support, as the time to validate FDA compliance is currently unknown.
Doctors around the world are pleading for the civilian sector to tackle the problem on a unified front.
If another company can act faster and more effectively, we welcome the challenge and hope this drive for innovation spurs a realization that we cannot rely on China to manufacture life saving equipment ever again.
CPT Tyler Merritt
CEO Nine Line Apparel
Former Air Mission Commander 160th SOAR
CDC guidelines for masks: https://www.cdc.gov/niosh/npptl/pdfs/UnderstandDifferenceInfographic-508.pdf
CDC Disease COVID-19 info