US healthcare workers on the frontlines of the battle against the novel coronavirus have pleaded with the world to help them fill a need of critical supplies that are quickly running low. Hospitals have reported shortages of N95 masks, protective face barriers that can filter most virus particles. The number of disposable gowns and glove reserves in many medical facilities has dwindled.

With mounting pressure on the private sector to jump in to meet the demand, even small business owners have decided to do their part to help temper the spread of the coronavirus. Local news reports from across the country have chronicled the work of several small businesses as they have shifted gears to make homemade surgical masks, face shields, and other supplies.

Handsewn Surgical Masks

Throughout the country, small business owners, uniform manufacturers, and even fashion designers have started sewing fabric surgical masks for first responders, but there remain questions about how effective these homemade masks are in reducing infection rates. Bloomberg reported that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently put out an official call to the fashion industry to begin creating masks and gowns. In California, T-shirt company Bayside Apparel & Headware has started making masks. In Arizona, the owner of My Little Homemade Shop started to pitch in by sewing masks and giving them away for free to local healthcare workers, reported USA Today.  

Face Shields From 3-D Printer Business

A New York-based 3-D printer company called Budmen Industries has begun printing plastic face shields. The company’s shield design, files and 3D printing templates are available online for free to anyone. Healthcare workers and first responders can request 3-D printed face shields by visiting

Toy Companies Become Medical Suppliers

Forbes reported that toy companies, both large and small are pivoting their operations to produce medical equipment. One example is the Pennsylvania-based toy company Crazy Aaron, which is now producing hand sanitizer at its factory. After the toy factory in Norristown was forced to close on the orders of the Pennsylvania governor to shutter non-essential businesses, the toy company founder had an epiphany that maybe he could shift the business to make use of an otherwise bad situation. Within a few days, the hand sanitizer production launched.

From Car Gaskets to Face Shields

One Pennsylvania-based company, Atlantic Gasket, which manufactures custom car parts and gaskets, announced on Twitter that they will begin producing plastic face shields for medical workers. According to the company, they will start working with major healthcare systems throughout the region to help mitigate supply issues. The company said that they are currently finalizing the face shield design and should be able to begin production next week.