INVEST IN YOU: READY. SET. GROW. New York fashion icons embrace Cuomo’s coronavirus mask challenge

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  • New York City-based fashion designers Christian Siriano and Naeem Khan, and clothing companies Rag and Bone and Eileen Fisher, have started making coronavirus masks.
  • They are answering the call to New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plea to businesses to pitch in with personal protective equipment for health-care workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • The federal government is now advising everyone to wear a mask, rather than limiting the advisory to people who are sick.
Protective masks for sale are displayed in a store in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 2, 2020 in New York City.
Protective masks for sale are displayed in a store in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn on April 2, 2020 in New York City.

As the fight against the coronavirus continues, states are emphasizing the shortage of personal protective equipment for their health-care and front-line workers. Companies like AppleAB Inbev and LVMH have been pivoting their business models to help produce or donate equipment such as masks and hand sanitizer. And on a local level, small business is lending a hand as well. In New York City, that effort includes the work of fashion designers.

Shortages of PPE continue to hinder New York’s ability to properly care for coronavirus patients. In response, the state set up a resource page so that small businesses and individuals in the state can contribute to the state’s lack. On Thursday, during his daily coronavirus update, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated the need for businesses to help with PPE and said the state would pay for the equipment.

“I ask businesses to think about the situation we’re in and the possible opportunity,” Cuomo said. “If you can do it, it’s a business opportunity, it’s a state need, it’s a national need. … We’re not asking for a favor; we’ll finance what you need in terms of transitioning, and we’ll buy the product, and I will pay a premium, because we need it.”

The federal government is now advising everyone to wear a mask, rather than limiting the advisory to people who are sick. New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio suggested that New Yorkers wear face coverings, not of medical grade, while out in public. But with masks already in short supply, many health-care professionals are quick to point out that sturdy N95 masks, already hard to find, are desperately needed by workers on the front lines and shouldn’t be allocated to the general public.

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