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Denim Firms Vidalia Mills and Keep It Here Step Into Mask-Making Arena

Vidalia Mills, a Louisiana-based maker of yarns and denim fabrics, and Keep it Here, a Los Angeles manufacturer of T-shirts, jeans and other apparel, announced a new joint venture to produce and distribute surgical masks, gowns and face masks to assist medical professionals and the public in limiting the spread of COVID-19.

Vidalia Mills has purchased an automated surgical-grade mask-making machine, along with two automatic N95 high-protection mask-making machines, which will be installed within the next 90 days in a new cleanroom facility under construction at the Louisiana firm’s plant and will utilize nonwoven and other advanced textile materials. The machines can produce up to 100 million units annually.

Vidalia Mills has also deployed 20 high-speed weaving looms to make lightweight cotton fabrics for the production of medical gowns and consumer face masks to be cut and sewn at Keep it Here in Los Angeles. The materials will be infused with anti-viral and anti-microbial properties, and made with BASF’s e3 sustainable cotton fabrics.

“With the production of these urgently needed masks and garments, we’re working to rapidly build a supply of protective equipment requested by medical professionals and government leaders to help contain the expansion of the COVID-19 virus,” Vidalia Mills CEO Dan Feibus said.

Keep it Here, a subsidiary of Omniverse Group, has hired Dr. Pietro D. Marghella, an expert in medical and public health emergencies, to oversee the medical requirements of the production.

“With our highly trained team, we are able rapidly to design and manufacture products,” Patrick Stewart, president of Keep it Here, said. “Because of our manufacturing capabilities, we will be able to make a substantial supply of cotton surgical gowns and consumer face masks to help our country in its hour of need.”

Commenting on Vidalia’s use of BASF’s e3 sustainable cotton for the production of surgical gowns and face masks, Jennifer Crumpler, director of the e3 sustainable cotton program, said the company is pleased to play a role in supplying versatile cotton grown by farmers throughout the United States for much-needed medical equipment.