By Lucy Chabot Reed
South Florida uniform company Zeidel & Co. has begun making and donating face masks to a local hospital.
“They aren’t surgical masks, but they fill the void with doctors meeting with patients,” said Montana Pritchard, owner of West Palm Beach-based Zeidel. “They’ve been accepted by doctors.”
On Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended people wear “cloth face coverings” when out in public or in areas where the 6-foot social distancing guideline is hard to abide, such as in grocery stores. The main reason is that infected people who do not show symptoms can unknowingly spread it.
Pritchard said he tried to find the fabric and elastic to make the masks online last week, but all of his normal sources were sold out. Then the Americas Apparel Producers Network made additional sources available to its members, which enabled Pritchard to order the fabric and elastic.
“It’s really heartwarming to see all the small businesses who have no business now stepping up to help,” he said. “Our seamstresses are all working from home. I sent them home with their machines, the thread and all the supplies.”
His staff made their first delivery of about 35 masks to Good Samaritan Medical Center on Flagler Drive on Thursday. While they were making them, a yacht crew member came in to pick up a uniform order, spotted the masks and asked if they were for sale — a job Pritchard said he hadn’t considered.
So now, Zeidel will donate about 25% of the 40-50 masks the team expects to make each day, and sell the rest exclusively to the yachting community for about $7.50 each. That cost pays for the labor of his seamstresses and supplies for not only the yachting masks but those donated to hospitals as well, Pritchard said.
Other places such as nursing homes, assisted care facilities, and daycare centers that are still operating would also benefit from donated cloth masks that people can make at home.
Pritchard advised interior crew to think about any uniform needs now.
“There are so many boats here [in South Florida] right now,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ve ever had this many. When this is over, they are all going to want to leave at once.”
He recommended the preliminary work be done now including picking styles and finalizing artwork. Then, when it’s time, orders can be filled more quickly.
“When the quarantine is lifted, there’s going to be a ginormous bottleneck to get it all done,” he said. “The yachting industry is very resilient and supportive of helping each other out. We’re going to come back.”
Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.