Bergen County and Bergen New Bridge Medical Center purchased 110,000 N95 masks from a Paterson manufacturing company in preparation for a possible resurgence of coronavirus cases in the fall.
Protective Health Gear (PHG), which filled the large order, retooled from producing retail display fixtures and began making N95 after getting National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) approval last month.
Masks were purchased for approximately $250,000.
“Since the outbreak of the global health crisis, my administration has taken measures to secure the largest stockpile of PPE in the State of New Jersey to make sure those on the frontline have the essential tools to protect themselves,” Jim Tedesco, Bergen County executive, said. “But this didn’t happen overnight. Even with the County’s massive purchasing power, one of the earliest challenges we faced was finding vendors that could quickly turn around bulk orders of PPE. It is reassuring that we now have a line to a local manufacturer producing N95 masks only a few miles away.”
Finding NOISH approved N95 respirators remains a difficult task for companies and government entities as counterfeit Chinese respirators have flooded the market.
“Preparedness, including having PPE at the ready is essential as we continue to wage the war against COVID-19. The next few months could be challenging with an uptick in COVID-19 cases and the onset of flu season. Having a local partner who can produce and supply N95 masks is a game changer,” Deborah Visconi, president and CEO of Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, said.
Protective Health Gear (PHG) officials said in September the firm has the capacity to produce 1.5 million masks per month.
“We are proud to be the first company in New Jersey to receive NIOSH approval under the public health emergency to produce N95 filtering face-piece respirators. We are in the business of helping our neighbors so it was our honor to facilitate this purchase with the County of Bergen and Bergen New Bridge Medical Center, the largest public hospital in the state,” Brian Wolin, CEO of Protective Health Gear, said.
Wolin and others have said their N95 masks have unique features such as foam cushions that make them more comfortable than others for prolonged use.
“The continuing Coronavirus infection and the possibility of stark surges as we enter flu season underscores the importance of having a stockpile of masks and respirators to wear,” Mary Amoroso, chairwoman of the Bergen County Board of Commissioners, said. Bergen County saw more coronavirus cases than any other county in New Jersey. “We are so pleased that a local manufacturer has retooled operations to give us another source for frontline workers.”