CHESHIRE, Conn. — From the Department of Corrections:
"In an effort to assist with the shortage of Personal Protective Equipment, the Department of Correction’s Correctional Enterprises of Connecticut (CEC) unit has developed a prototype - for mass production - of a cotton fabric facemask intended for use in situations where N95 respirators or surgical masks are not available.
CEC has the ability to convert five of its manufacturing shops for the production of the masks. Full-scale manufacturing of the masks began on Monday, March 23, 2020. It is estimated that initially a combined total of 1,200 to 1,400 facemasks could be produced daily.
After the first two days of production more than 3,300 masks were produced.
It is likely that daily production will increase as the production process is streamlined.
These masks are intended for use in emergency situations when no other option is available.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) acknowledges on their website that in settings where N95 respirators are so limited that routinely practiced standards of care for wearing N95 respirators and equivalent or higher level of protection respirators are no longer possible, and surgical masks are not available, as a last resort, it may be necessary for healthcare providers to use masks that have never been evaluated or approved by The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).
According to CEC Director James Gaglione, CEC recently received a shipment of more than 28,000 yards of elastic for use in the production of the masks.
"The CEC staff and the individuals producing the masks understand the importance and seriousness of the situation at hand, Gaglione said. "Everyone is coming together to help out."
CEC operates several production sites located within Department of Correction facilities manufacturing everything from highway signs, to furniture, to mattresses. These programs provide offenders with opportunities to learn valuable job skills while providing valuable goods and services to a wide range of customers.
“This is outstanding – staff as well as offenders – working for the greater good,” said DOC Commissioner Rollin Cook of the mask production. “At the heart of this effort is an underlying respect for human dignity and the desire to help keep people safe.”"