Covergalls protecting gold miners and communities with reusable cloth masks
(Kitco News) - The COVID-19 pandemic has claimed nearly 345,000 lives, with almost 100,000 people dying in the U.S. alone. In the face of these grim stats, one company that revolutionized the mining sector for women is now doing what it can to make sure people are safe as nations around the world start to ease lockdown restrictions.
Covergalls, a company that began making coveralls specifically for women, is employing Ontario-based seamstresses to make reusable cloth masks. Alicia Woods, founder of Covergalls, told Kitco News that its mask production has quickly ballooned as the mining sector is trying to keep its employees and communities safe from the deadly virus.
She said that production started slow, using fabric they already had to make masks for their employees and delivery people. However, the need for cloth masks quickly grew after the Ontario Mining Association reached out to the company.
"The mining industry was quick to respond by donating any medical-grade PPE to the frontline health workers. They're the ones who desperately need it right now, but it left the mining employees and their families and communities without protection," Woods said. "So that's when we started to produce the fabric masks and get those into the hands of the mining employees and into their families and the communities in which they operate."
Woods added that it is encouraging to see just how serious the mining sector has taken this global health threat. She also noted that it is another example of how the mining sector can lead the world in innovation.
"For me, when you think mining, it means safety is number one, it is top of mind for everybody in the industry," she said. "And so naturally we want to make sure that the mining industry is doing its part to protect those who are protecting us right now. We also want to make sure that we're taking care of the employees."
But its more than just protecting miners. Covergalls has developed an entire community-focused initiative with its masks, including making a youth-sized mask that they are donating to the Sudbury hospital, Sick Kids hospital in Toronto, and youth groups.
As to what has been more of a challenge for Covergalls, designing a mask to protect people during a pandemic or a coverall made explicitly for women.
"The team has learned that it's a little complex in terms of even the elastic on the mask that we have. There's been a number of reiterations in terms of comfort," Woods said. "People are wearing this all day long, and you know, with Covergalls, we really promote functionality and comfort."
More and more companies like airlines and grocery stories are making it mandatory for customers to wear masks. Health officials around the world have recommended people wear masks especially when conditions don’t allow people to observe social distancing measures.