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Minnesota hockey jersey manufacturer now makes masks, gowns

No hockey? No problem! Minnesota company switches to make medical supplies

EDINA, Minn. — Necessity is the mother of invention as they say. And in these unusual times, that statement could not be truer. Just ask the local hockey jersey manufacturer, turned medical supply, supplier.

“It's amazing when you have to do something, what you can accomplish, when you're pushed,” says Chris Bonvino, owner of Gemini Athletic Wear.

When the puck stopped, so did the machines at Gemini Athletic Wear. Chris Bonvino offered his employees the opportunity to stay home with pay.

“But they all want to come in and help,” he says.

No hockey. No problem. The folks at Gemini figured out how to make heavy-duty CDC spec masks.

Front line medical folks are using the cloth masks over their N95 respirators to help them last longer.

"One of the hospitals just ordered 2,000 of them. They'll have 1,000 of them in the field, the other thousand will be washed, and they'll switch them out so that's kind of the plan,” says Bonvino.

The Edina, Minnesota company has been cranking them out, working in shifts to keep the number of people in the building to a minimum, some even working from their homes.

“They already have industrial machines, but we took several of ours, and moved them to different operators, and so while they're quarantined, they're turning them out and they're also being paid," he says.

So far they have cut about 15,000 masks. About 9,000 have already been sewn and delivered.

Next challenge? Nurses who showed up needing gowns.

“We created a gown from scratch on our software and we cut, sample-sewed, and we produced 300 of them that evening. They're already sewn and ready to go. You go quick when you have to,” says Bonvino.

Gowns, masks, whatever else may pop up, Chris says his team is ready to try. The supply chain being what it is, he figures if local companies can retool, revamp, rethink what they already do, it will have an impact.

"We can't make the dent that obviously a 3M can, but we can certainly help some people in the meantime,” he says.

RELATED: MN company making needed tools in fight against COVID-19

RELATED: CDC discusses whether general public should be required to wear masks

KARE 11’s coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit kare11.com/coronavirus for comprehensive coverage, find out what you need to know about the Midwest specifically, learn more about the symptoms, and see what companies in Minnesota are hiring. Have a question? Text it to us at 763-797-7215. And get the latest coronavirus updates sent right to your inbox every morning. Subscribe to the KARE 11 Sunrise newsletter here. Help local families in need: www.kare11.com/give11

The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.


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