What began as an outbreak of serious illness caused by a novel coronavirus in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, quickly spread around the world and was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.
In the United States, the first laboratory-confirmed case was diagnosed in the state of Washington on January 20, 2020. Within two months, hospitals in numerous states were overwhelmed with cases of critically ill COVID-19 patients.
There was a huge surge in demand for PPE like gowns and masks, but supply chains were disrupted and stockpiles were quickly depleted. The situation became dire. Medical isolation gowns and masks were in such short supply that healthcare professionals were re-using these single-use items for days or even weeks at a time, putting themselves at increased risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Rising to the Challenge
Driven by a common desire to do whatever it would take to supply the necessary PPE to protect frontline workers exposed to this deadly virus, many companies—including materials suppliers, convertors and garment manufacturers—quickly acted to find solutions.
Some of the companies had no prior experience supplying PPE but saw the critical need and rose to meet the challenge. They pivoted from their usual business, adapted their expertise, collaborated with materials suppliers and convertors they had never worked with before, innovated designs and processes and began supplying medical isolation gowns and masks in record time.
From Fashion Apparel to PPE
Located in New York City’s historic Fashion District, Ferrara Manufacturing has been producing Olympic uniforms for Team USA, runway garments and formal suiting for several major luxury brands since 1987. In March 2020, however, Ferrara Manufacturing shifted its garment production from high-end fashion to medical isolation gowns for frontline workers.