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From Factories to Sewing Circles, Indiana Rushes to Make Masks

(INDIANAPOLIS) – Hoosiers are getting creative to help Indiana hospitals get enough supplies to deal with the coronavirus outbreak.

Distilleries in Indy and in Clark County are making hand sanitizer, while Subaru and the medical equipment manufacturer Summit have donated protective gear. Governor Holcomb says other Hoosiers are pitching in, from a Facebook sewing group in Boone County to restaurants who have donated thousands of gloves. State school superintendent Jennifer McCormick says school science labs are chipping in masks and gowns.

State health commissioner Kristina Box says the state just received more masks and gloves from the federal government, but still needs more.

Box says not all hospitals are running short. She says hospitals are trying to calculate the burn rate of masks, gowns, and gloves during the typical two-week stay for a virus patient.

Former state health commissioner Woody Myers, Democrats’ nominee for governor, charges Holcomb has offered Hoosiers “casual reassurance” instead of a plan. He says Indiana should be pressing the federal government to use the Defense Production Act to put idled Hoosier factories to work manufacturing protective gear and testing kits.

Holcomb and Commerce Secretary Jim Schellinger say several factories have already stepped up to do that on their own. Schellinger says the Fiat-Chrysler plant in Kokomo, where an autoworker became part of Indiana’s virus death toll this week, will make a thousand masks a month, and Holcomb says RV manufacturers are making masks as well. In all, Schellinger says more than 100 Hoosier businesses have come forward to donate or manufacture protective equipment. He says the Indiana Economic Development Corporation has spoken over the last week with another 800 businesses and economic development agencies about ways they can help.

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