The need for personal protective equipment has never been greater.

By Alyssa Hardy
Updated Apr 06, 2020 @ 10:15 am
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As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread across the United States, a problematic shortage of personal protective equipment (known as PPE) has emerged as one of the most preventable issues of the crisis. Hospital workers around the country are sharing stories about having to improvise, using everything from swimming goggles to trash bags as ways to protect themselves.

Because of this dire need, many fashion brands have already stepped up to aid hospital workers through entirely shifting their manufacturing to create things needed by hospitals. In New York, designer Christian Siriano has donated thousands of masks to hospitals in the state by completely restructuring his business for the foreseeable future. Outside of high-end designers, the Skilled Laborers Brigade was created as a way to bring together sewers currently out of work (like costume designers and seamstresses) to make the equipment needed by hospitals.

But while masks have seemed to be the focus of most of these efforts — for people both in the medical fields and essential workers in places like grocery stores or warehouses — this week, another urgent need is emerging. Julia Berk-Krauss, a doctor at the Downstate Medical Center in New York, is putting out the call for fashion designers to start making gowns. "I am a resident physician at Downstate Medical Center, one of three COVID-only hospitals in NYC. We are to run out of protective gowns in one week and will then be provided with ponchos," she wrote in the statement. "We are asking designers, seamstresses, tailors, and crafters isolated at home with sewing machine to please help us."

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In an email interview with InStyle, Berk-Krauss further explained the situation writing, "The situation here, as at other institutions in the city, is dire. We are quickly running out of personal protective equipment, including protective gowns, N95 masks, and face shields." She continued, "We were recently informed that there are only enough gowns for one provider per day. Gowns are extremely important for protecting providers from bodily fluids and infectious particles. Without this protective layer, we are more likely to get coronavirus particles on our skin and clothing, which can then infect us, other patients, providers, and even the public and our families when we leave the hospital."

Already, some manufacturers are answering the call and raising money to help.The Garment District for Gowns created a Go Fund Me to cover the cost of materials that will help make these gowns. Brands like Wrangler have converted their factories with a goal to create thousands of gowns and indivduals are producing and sending out gowns as quick as they can.

If you are able to create gowns, you can find more information including the pattern and the address to send them to here. If you are able to donate money for materials, you can do so here.

The coronavirus pandemic is unfolding in real time, and guidelines change by the minute. We promise to give you the latest information at time of publishing, but please refer to the CDC and WHO for updates.