Non-profit launches mask production for homeless, essential workers

masks for homeless, workers  (1).PNG
Non-profit launches mask production for homeless, essential workers (Photo: KUTV)

A nonprofit that started in Utah garage is launching production of thousands of masks, and plans to give them away to those who may be the most vulnerable to coronavirus.

“We wanted to use some of vaping our building expertise, and our eagerness to build for something that would help for the time being,“ said Chris Sparzo, an engineer who put up money for materials to make thousands of masks at the headquarters of ‘Make Salt Lake.’ “They’re made out of polyester, rayon blend fabric, which is what you find in a furnace filter and HVAC system.”

Make Salt Lake said the masks will be given to homeless shelters and essential workers, who are on duty, and lack protection.

“Passing them on to grocery stores, gas station attendance, pharmacy workers, anybody in one of those essential industries who are going to be coming in contact with a large number of people,“ said Rio Sabella, shop manager for the nonprofit.

The new Geraldine King Homeless Resource Center said it hopes to receive hundreds of masks from Make Salt Lake this week. The center has 200 beds for women.

“The idea is that these (masks) will filter out a lot of vapors,“ said Sparzo. “We wanted to choose something that was effective, and also very cheap, because we want to make a lot of them.“

Sabella said the goal is to start with “this big batch” and then assess demand. Make Salt Lake may also use 3D printers and other specialized equipment to make shields for hospital workers and maybe even ventilator parts.

Sparzo said the aim of the masks is to reduce risk, but they will not be coronavirus-proof.

“You shouldn’t go about as if you can’t get it,“ he said. “You should be cautious as usual.“

He said the masks will be made in a clean room, with just two people.