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Edmonton dry cleaner to begin production of cloth face masks amid COVID-19 pandemic

Edmonton dry-cleaner to begin production of cloth face masks to slow spread of COVID-19
Page the Cleaner in Edmonton will soon begin production of cloth face masks to help protect people from getting COVID-19. Nicole Stillger reports.

An Edmonton dry-cleaning company will soon begin production of cloth face masks to help protect people from coronavirus.

Page the Cleaner general manager Bruce Hogle said for the past week they have been creating prototypes.

The business is considered an essential service, but like many others, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a big effect on his regular operations.

He was forced to cut his workforce in half.

“We’re a little family, and letting go about 50 per cent of [staff] — it was one of the toughest things I’ve had to do,” Hogle said.

Despite the struggles, he saw an opportunity to give back.

“We thought we’d start manufacturing at our cost in order to help the general public and keep good Edmontonians employed,” he said.

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The masks have a filter sewn into the two layers of material.

“In between those layers we have a 3M product as well… which does help reduce any contaminations that can come in,” Hogle explained.

READ MORE: Suncor Energy donates 40,000 masks to federal government in bid to curb COVID-19

He said he wants to ensure medical-grade masks stay available to front-line workers who need them.

“People I still see as I go out are using them,” Hogle said. “They want that barrier and they want that peace of mind — this is something that can fit in there for them.”

On Friday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended everyone wear cloth masks while out in public to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

Alberta Health, however, is still looking into it.

“I haven’t seen the CDC summary of evidence,” Dr. Deena Hinshaw said Friday.

“The challenge with cloth masks is understanding whether those cloth masks do as good [of a] job as surgical masks in preventing the spread of infection.
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“We know from some studies when cloth masks get damp — if someone wears them for a long period of time — they actually can start to trap [a] virus and could be a risk for the person wearing them.”

She said if people are considering wearing cloth masks, they need to ensure they are washing their hands before putting it on and taking it off.

“Make sure that mask is not in a place where others can touch it,” she said.

Hinshaw hopes to have a formal recommendation on the subject sometime next week.

READ MORE: City of St. Albert using nocospray to protect against COVID-19

As for Hogle, he and his team plan on making 500 masks to start, beginning Tuesday.

“Really hoping that coming up we’re going to be able to bring some staff back,” he said.

He is not looking for a profit. At $9 each, he said that’s enough to cover production.

You can email service@pagethecleaner.com to get a mask.