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Seattle company converts factory to make masks for health workers

Production of protective masks has ramped up across the globe. (Getty Images)

Outdoor Research announced Monday that it will be converting its manufacturing facility in Seattle to make protective masks for frontline medical workers.

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The company expects to have the capacity to churn our tens of thousands of protective masks. Every day, its facility will be able to produce 140,000 surgical masks, 50,000 N95 respirators, and at least “thousands” fabric face masks capable of filtering out sub-micron particulates.

Outdoor Research is currently run by Dan Nordstrom, who, prior to purchasing the company, spent 17 years at at Nordstrom Inc., where he served as president in the late 1990s.

He bought Outdoor Research in 2003, after its founder, Ron Gregg, died in an avalanche while skiing in British Columbia.

The company typically manufactures technical apparel for a variety of outdoor sports, including rock climbing, skiing, snowboarding, and more.

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“Our 39-year history of rapidly developing cutting-edge Outdoor, Military and Tactical products provide Outdoor Research the ability to quickly shift to supporting the personal protective needs of the medical community,” Nordstrom said in a news release.

Other Seattle-area organizations have also pitched in over the course of the last few weeks to provide more masks to medical workers. That includes Providence, which launched the 100 Million Mask Challenge to call on volunteers with sewing machines at home to help.

Meanwhile, mask manufacturer 3M has vowed to double its production to put out over a billion N95 masks by the end of 2020.

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