Austin furniture store creates medical masks out of common material

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Couch Potatoes furniture company is changing its industry for the time being — just so it can help the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the company stepped up to answer the call of doctors and nurses in need of masks and gowns, converting its facilities from a furniture store to a medical supplies factory.

Austin Couch Potatoes co-owner Brian Morgan says they just started the switch Wednesday making protective gear for the people on the front line of the pandemic.

The masks and gowns are made from polypropylene — a material that the company uses in its pillowcase assembly. Coincidentally, polypropylene is a critical component to the masks that healthcare workers need and use at a hospital.

“Just a week ago, or even two or three days ago, we were using this material to make the pillowcase lining for all of our sofas that we upholster in east Austin,” Morgan said gesturing to the mask he was wearing over his mouth.

While the Austin Couch Potatoes masks aren’t certified, Morgan says doctors are using them anyway. The masks fasten around a person’s ears with simple rubber bands. 

The company shut down its factory given the circumstances surrounding the area. This past weekend, Morgan says his men and women came to the facility and worked for free constructing an adequate model of medical mask.

“Everyone of these people right here were building furniture yesterday and now we are training them as quickly as we can to make protective gear for our community,” Morgan said. Talking with healthcare officials in Austin, I can’t even put a number on the need, the need is so great they said get as many as you can out there.”

Morgan ordered 20,000 yards of material. He says that’s enough material to make a weeks worth of masks and other protective gear.

The company is looking for more volunteers to help make masks. Morgan says they’re also talking with furniture stores across the country in hopes of inspiring others.

“We are sharing all of our processes with every furniture store across the nation showing them how they can use their robotic equipment to make face masks and gear,” Morgan said. If this little piece of material that costs a few cents can change lives, we’re going to commit everything that we can to the cause.”

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