Rural Nova Scotia company ready to manufacture 3-layer masks with filters in time for winter

A rural Nova Scotia-based company that manufactured and distributed thousands of medical gowns during the first wave of COVID-19 is now prepared to help keep people safe during the second wave.

“The RealGuard Elite Series Masks are triple-layered. There’s a layer of cotton against the wearer’s face,” said Jenny Greer, the director of customer relations with RealGuard Canada.

“In between those two layers of cotton is the polypropylene filtration layer that helps to filter out the outgoing air,” Greer added.

Read more: 3-layer masks with filter now recommended, Canada’s top doctor says

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States says that filtration can reduce the amount of exposure wearer’s may have with infectious droplets.

RealGuard has recently expanded to Canada and has teamed up with WearWell Garments, a manufacturing and distribution facility that’s been in operation for more than 40 years.

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During the first wave of COVID-19, WearWell shifted gears into manufacturing Personal Protective Equipment, specifically medical gowns.

“We were manufacturing thousands of gowns a week. We had one long-term care facility alone, that came within the first few weeks and wanted 15,000 gowns as fast as we could get them out,” Cynthia Outred said, the director of sales at WearWell Garments.

Sign
A sign thanking WearWell Garments employees for their support in manufacturing medical gowns was placed in front of the facility.Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

The three-layer masks WearWell is ready to manufacture are currently being made in Italy and Portugal.

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WearWell imported a small quantity to distribute from their location and put their manufacturing skills to the test to ensure that they could manufacture the RealGuard-specific masks made with Livinguard technology.

Read more: Halifax Public Libraries suspends in-person events as COVID-19 cases rise

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The next step is waiting for enough demand in the Canadian market for the masks to proceed with being manufactured on home soil.

“We are geared up so that we could start whenever the demand is there from them (RealGuard) to move to Canadian production,” Outred said.

employees
About 100 people from Pictou County are employed at the facility that’s been in operation for more than 40 years.Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Both WearWell Garments and RealGuard Canada are hoping to work with Ottawa to secure a federal contract.

The ultimate goal is to manufacture the three-layered masks in Stellarton and distribute them to people, families and frontline workers across the country.

material
Rolls of raw clothing material sit on floor-to-ceiling shelves.Alexa MacLean/Global Halifax

Recently, Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, recommended that Canadians consider shifting towards three-layered mask with a filter as more of us move indoors for the winter.

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“I think any additional layer of protection we are now recommending,” Tam said, during a Nov. 3 news conference in Ottawa.

Read more: N.S. medical officer tells students outside bubble to stay put for holidays

According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, non-medical face masks should have two layers of tightly-woven fabric and a third layer that acts as a filter, such as polypropylene.

On the provincial front, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Strang, says three layers are ‘optimal’ but he’s more concerned that people are wearing masks properly and when required.

“Yes, if you can wear a three-layer mask, that’s the best but I’d much rather have people wear like a two-layered mask than not wear any mask at all,” Strang said, during a Nov. 17 provincial COVID-19 briefing.

Strang adds that future non-medical mask procurement will likely involve three layers, but the province isn’t about to replace the large quantity of two-layer masks in stock.

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