NC textile mill ‘heeds call of nation,’ gears up to make 10 million face masks per week

NC textile mill ‘heeds call of nation,’ gears up to make 10 million face masks per week
Vice President Mike Pence escorted by Andy Warlick (right), owner and CEO of Parkdale Mills, Inc. toured the plant and talked with employees in May 2019. Pence landed in Charlotte, N.C. to attend the Charlotte Republican National Convention Kickoff on Wednesday, May 22, 2019. After the kickoff the Vice President visited Parkdale Mills Plant 21, a textile plant in Mineral Springs, NC. He toured the facility and delivered remarks to about 100 employees, highlighting the beneficial impacts the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement will have on North Carolina. Later Wednesday, the Vice President traveled to Greensboro, NC to attend a Trump Victory Event.9. (Source: JOHN D. SIMMONS JSIMMONS@CHARLOTTEOBSERVER.COM)

GASTONIA, N.C. (Charlotte Observer) - Amid warnings of an impending shortage of protective equipment for medical staff, a Gastonia-based textile company is organizing a national effort to ramp up production of face masks for healthcare workers.

Parkdale Mills Inc., one of the country’s largest yarn spinners, is working with companies like Hanesbrand, Fruit of the Loom, and six others to build a manufacturing supply chain for the masks, the National Council of Textile Organizations said in a press release.

The decision, according to NCTO, “heeds call of nation” to help.

While the companies are often competitors in the marketplace, they “are banding together for the greater good of a nation facing one if its most monumental challenges,” the statement said.

Across the country, medical workers face a shortage of personal protective equipment on the front lines of the response to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by a novel coronavirus. Health officials have said that panic-buying of the masks by people who do not need them can exacerbate the shortage, forcing health care workers to reuse or improvise protective equipment, often with greater risk.

Anderson Warlick, the president and CEO of Parkdale, worked closely with White House officials to expedite the process through “bureaucratic red tape,” the NCTO said, allowing production to begin soon after the masks were approved and certified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Production is expected to begin on Monday, the NCTO said, with deliveries starting in the middle of the week. Once at full capacity (in about four to five weeks) the coalition expects to produce up to 10 million face masks per week.

Vice President Mike Pence toured Parkdale last May with other elected officials.