The Department of Health and Human Services is buying over half a billion dollars’ worth of cloth face coverings for critical workers and federal agencies.
The masks were purchased to “mitigate” the transmission of Covid-19 as stay-at-home orders are lifted, according to the contracts, which were awarded May 8.
Contracts were awarded to HanesBrands Inc. for $322 million; San Mar Corp. for $217 million; Parkdale Advanced Materials Inc. for $60 million; Beverly Knits Inc. for $43 million; America Knits for $1.68 million; and American Giant for $1.27 million.
The HHS, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure and Security Agency (CISA) are distributing up to 650 million cloth face coverings to infrastructure workers, first responders, and food producers, an HHS spokesperson said in a statement.
The federal government has distributed 90 million face coverings so far, the HHS spokesperson said. FEMA and the HHS are also providing face coverings to federal agencies, the spokesperson added.
Distribution is based on the CISA’s analysis of priority infrastructure sectors, the HHS spokesperson said.
A representative for San Mar said the company is delivering 10 million masks per week to the HHS but is not involved in how they are allocated.
Parkdale is delivering a total of 60 million three-ply cotton face masks to the government, Davis Warlick, the company’s executive vice president, said.
American Giant is making about 50,000 masks per week, a spokesperson for the company said.
The initiative was coordinated by the National Council of Textile Organizations and led by Parkdale. The Federal Emergency Management Agency is in charge of distributing the masks, the American Giant spokesperson said.
“Almost the entire U.S. textile industry is working on this program for the United States government,” Warlick said in an interview. Parkdale is working with 20 to 30 other companies to deliver the masks, and hundreds of textile companies are involved, he added.
The other three companies didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
—With assistance from Kim Bhasin