Coronavirus: Texas Inmates to Make 25K Medical Masks for First Responders

A woman sews face masks at the workshop of a garment hand-out point at the University hospital (Uniklinikum) in Essen on March 18, 2020, western Germany. - German leaders urged citizens to stay home, as the government announced unprecedented nationwide measures to radically scale back public life in order to …
INA FASSBENDER/AFP via Getty Images

Inmates are expected to make 25,000 face masks at a prison in Gatesville, Texas, for first responders who need them due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic.

Female prisoners in a unit at the Gatesville Correctional Facility have been making the masks for about a week and will continue into next week during the coronavirus outbreak, according to CNN.

State Sen. John Whitmire (D-TX), who is an advocate for criminal justice reform, said it was the director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) idea to have the inmates sew the masks made from locally grown cotton.

“(It was) good vision on their part and that of prison administrators. A lot of our prisons are self-sustaining. They make their own sheets and clothing,” he commented, adding, “They had the system in place to do it, the cotton and the labor.”

Although the masks are not made of the standard synthetic material, Whitmire said they were better than having nothing at all to wear.

“They’re not the one you would want in an emergency room, but it sure beats nothing,” he stated, adding that the masks will be given to hospital workers, police, and other first responders, according to ABC 13.

“The Texas Department of Criminal Justice is also exploring what other Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) it can manufacture on a fast turnaround,” the report said.

March 9, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his state’s prison inmates would help produce 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer a week in response to alleged price gouging online.

“To Purell and Mr. Amazon and Mr. eBay, if you continue the price gouging we will introduce our product which is superior to your product,” he stated.

However, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) criticized Cuomo’s decision on Twitter following the announcement:

Despite the backlash, Cuomo said he would ramp up production to get the sanitizer to residents who need it.

“We’ll be providing this to governmental agencies, schools, the MTA, prisons, etcetera, because you can’t get it on the market and when you get it it’s very, very expensive. So that is now in production. We’ll start distribution,” he concluded.

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