Local organizations step up to provide face coverings for Port workforce

As the PDX Airport and our marine terminals remain open during Governor Kate Brown’s COVID-19 “Stay Home, Save Lives” order – providing critical infrastructure for the region – our top priority has been the health and safety of all those who continue to show up for work.

We continue to evolve health and safety policies for our facilities and our workforce, always following the lead of local and federal public health experts. That includes a recent shift in early April. Following the guidance of the CDC and Multnomah County Public Health, all Port of Portland employees who had to report to job sites were required to wear face coverings.

We were clear with our employees: a cloth face covering is not meant to protect you from getting sick, but it’s a critical tool to help slow the spread of COVID-19. It reduces the risk of individuals spreading the virus to others, like coworkers or travelers coming through PDX. Growing evidence shows that many with COVID-19 have no symptoms, yet we can still spread it to others unknowingly.

Employees were eager to do what they could to protect community members.

But while demand was high for face coverings, supply was low. Just as our region has done since COVID-19 started to spread – when distilleries began producing hand sanitizer – local organizations stepped up to support workers who continue to report for duty.

In the last two weeks, we received 700 cloth face coverings the Port ordered from the local apparel store Garnish. Garnish shifted its focus from limited-edition apparel to face-covering production shop in the last few weeks – and owner Erica is able to keep three local seamstresses employed with the work.

As Erica shared with us, this work has kept her busy. “We typically make about 40 to 60 pieces a week. This week, we made 1,400! We’ve got things dialed now. We’re able to produce about 200 masks a day going forward.”

We also received an order of face coverings from Looptworks, a creative PDX business that re-purposes and upcycles materials into limited-edition products. Like Garnish, Looptworks adapted its business to help respond to emerging needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When the virus started taking its toll in the U.S. in mid-late March, we, as a B Corporation, immediately looked for ways to help,” said Clare Healy, director of marketing at Looptworks. “Fairly quickly, it became clear that our dispersed supply chain and our access to pre-consumer excess materials were primed to safely scale in an effort to protect both the planet and people amidst this crisis.”

By tapping into these existing parts of their business, Looptworks has been able to provide reusable, upcycled protective face masks for not just the Port of Portland, but Portland Fire & Rescue, local and national hospitals, airlines, distilleries and breweries producing sanitizer, grocers, and others.

And as Clare shared, they’ve done this work while “ensuring that waste is minimized and our air is protected.”

These face coverings from Garnish and Looptworks are being provided to Port employees who continue to oversee operations at PDX and our marine terminals.

“We are grateful for the innovation and creativity of PDX businesses right now,” said Steve Danielson, director of health and safety at the Port of Portland. “In tough times, PDX comes together. We are amazed by the efforts of businesses like Garnish and Looptworks to help frontline workers.”

Find Locally Sourced Face Coverings

Several local businesses and nonprofits continue to make face coverings for people in the region. Looking for a face covering for yourself or your family? You can start by reviewing this list pulled together by the Oregonian, or peruse this Crafters Against COVID-19 Facebook page. Some are also getting crafty with old t-shirts at home.

Other PDX businesses like Garnish and Looptworks are fulfilling large-scale orders for organizations with frontline workers who continue to work on-site, like those at our airport and marine facilities. As our partners and tenants look for solutions of their own, here are a few businesses on our radar that continue to produce face coverings.

Flipside Hats: https://www.flipsidehats.com/collections/facemask

Settlemiers Jackets: http://www.settlemiersjackets.com/

Portland Garment Factory: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-he-dgFkiE

Calibration Cornhole Co.: https://www.instagram.com/p/B-RAeIaFs_s