Under Armour manufacturing face masks, other protective equipment for health care providers

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An Under Armour team member works on one of the face masks that the Baltimore-based athletic company is developing for health care providers across Maryland. Photo courtesy of Under Armour.

As health care workers face a dwindling supply of protective equipment to treat the coronavirus outbreak, Under Armour has started manufacturing and assembling face masks and face shields.

The athletic apparel company headquartered in Tide Point announced Tuesday that it is producing the gear and specially equipped fanny packs for the University of Maryland Medical System’s 28,000 health care providers and staff.

The company said in a statement that it is also exploring fabricating hospital gowns for UMMS; preparing to develop face masks for LifeBridge Health; and discussing supply needs with Johns Hopkins Medicine, MedStar Health and other local medicinal institutions.

“When the call came in from our local medical providers for more masks, gowns and supply kits, we just went straight to work,” Randy Harward, a senior vice president at Under Armour, said in a statement. “More than 50 Under Armour teammates from materials scientists to footwear and apparel designers from laboratories in Baltimore and Portland quickly came together in search of solutions.”

Mohan Suntha, president and CEO of UMMS, said in a statement that the system’s partnership with Under Armour is “instrumental in Maryland’s success during this most critical time” as health care professionals work to slow the spread of the coronavirus and treat those affected by COVID-19.

“We are incredibly grateful for Under Armour’s investment in our health care workers, patients, and each Marylander working hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Suntha said. Their willingness and ability to immediately pivot their manufacturing focus to help meet our personal protective equipment needs will save lives.”

Under Armour is producing the masks at the Lighthouse, the company’s design and manufacturing hub in Baltimore, where Harward and team members are using the lab’s high-speed knife cutter to simultaneously carve nearly 100 pieces of “breathable yet moisture-resistant fabric,” the statement said.

The cutouts then get passed to a group of volunteers who fold them into mask shapes without any sewing required, according to the statement.

Harward estimates Under Armour will be able to create as many as 100,000 masks per week.

So far, the company has delivered 1,300 face shields to UMMS and anticipates developing more than 500,000 face masks and filling 50,000 fanny packs with needed supplies, the statement said.

Under Armour is also exploring 3-D printing N95 and N80 masks for medical professionals, according to the statement.

About a week and a half ago, Under Armour pledged up to $2 million to support people affected by COVID-19 and encouraged people to exercise while they are self-isolating in their homes.

Marcus Dieterle

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