COLORADO, USA — A U.S. Army veteran said he hopes his recently launched business will help alleviate some of the mask shortages in the U.S.
Tovey Giezentanner, 51, founded Salus Supply LLC, based in Chico, California. He purchased a mask-making machine from China, and is now making the masks in his Chico factory.
"I saw a solution in the context of a mask," Giezentanner said. "I thought masks were going to be a big part of the solution. When I started looking into it, I saw a massive problem in how we were actually producing masks and distributing them in the U.S."
Wearing a mask can reduce your risk of infection by 85%, according to 9Health Expert Dr. Payal Kohli.
A recent study from Florida Atlantic University found that the number of layers on masks made an impact on the potential spread of COVID-19.
Researchers used a laser to measure how far the droplets in a cough traveled using different face coverings.
Their research found that a well-fitting homemade mask stitched with two layers of fabric contained particles to within 2.5 inches of the face. A bandanna-style mask, which Kohli said many Americans were wearing early in the pandemic because they were fast and easy to fashion, proved the least effective, allowing droplets to travel up to 3 feet. Not having any face covering allowed particles to fly more than 8 feet. Kohli said the "fit" of the mask is important as well, and that masks should hug the face.
Florida Atlantic University study's top-rated mask was the CVS Cone Face Mask, which comes 10 in a box and costs $8.
Kohli said people who run into a supply issue might consider a lighter weight, three-layer, disposable mask made of high grade materials. She said two layers are good, but three layers are better.
Giezentanner, the owner of Salus, said supply issues are why he hopes his company will be a part of the solution. He said he encountered several hurdles ordering a mask-making machine from China.
"Well it's pretty easy if you want to send money overseas with no real expectation that you'll get anything back," he said.
Giezentanner, along with two investors, purchased the $200,000 piece of equipment, which arrived with all the directions for assembly and usage written in Chinese.
"All the buttons on the machine were labeled with Chinese characters as well," he said.
Giezentanner said he worked with an American company with connections in China to help with that hurdle. He said the machine can make up to 100 masks per minute — or about 500,000 masks on a four-hour shift, 20 days per month.
"I think I can compete on price with China even though they can make them for pennies," he told 9NEWS.
Giezentanner said he has the capacity to become a big volume seller. His customers include schools systems, government entities and commercial enterprises with big staffs.
Salus Supply masks are made from three layers of lightweight, breathable, nonwoven material. Salus sells boxes of 50 masks, 150 masks, 300 masks or cases of 2,000. Masks can be purchased online, on the company website or by calling 1-800-915-9160.
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