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Richmond denim designers sew thousands of protective masks for VCU hospital

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Posted at 8:10 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 11:10:08-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond shop known for creating finely crafted denims is switching gears to produce thousands of masks to a Richmond hospital fighting COVID-19.

Shockoe Atelier owner Anthony Lupesco said that over the course of five days, the shop's team has sewn 2,000 masks for doctors and patients at VCU Medical Center.

“We asked around to see where we could help and MCV reached out to us, so everything we're making goes straight to them," Lupesco said.

Originally, the masks were designed for doctors to wear over N95 respirator masks in order to prolong their use; a critical practice as hospitals throughout the country prepare for Personal Protective Equipment shortages.

"They're machine washable, so they can be worn over the N95 masks and then thrown in to the wash with the rest of their linens," Lupesco explained.

But as COVID-19 continue to grow across the region and hospitals adjust their protocols, Lupesco said that the masks are now being distributed to anyone who enters the hospital.

While the sewn masks aren't up to the same protective standards as N95 respirator masks, Lupesco said that they are made of the same material as scrubs and can help prevent some particles from getting in.

After receiving the fabric shipment on Friday, Lupesco said that his team went right to work and has produced about 2,000 masks for the hospital - with no signs of slowing down thus far.

Meanwhile, Shockoe Atelier has moved sales online in the wake of COVID-19.

Click here if you are a business interested in donating masks or PPE to VCU Medical Center.