With the widespread of the coronavirus disease or COVID-19 causing scarcity in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers battling the coronavirus pandemic, people around the globe are stepping up to help in this battle as much as they can.
There have been cicurlating news about people making and improvising their own PPEs. Meanwhile in some places like Malaysia and Tennessee, while the health workers and frontliners combat the virus, prison inmates have been doing their share by producing PPEs.
In Malaysia, the Penor Prison sewing workshop is in a race against time as tehy try to produce enough PPE for medical personnel attending to COVID-19 patients.
In the past few days, 18 inmates in the prison have been working full 8-hour shifts, measuring, cutting and sewing materials to produce said PPEs.
According to the prison's director Datuk Abu Hasan Hussain, they already have received at least 2,000 meters of special material used in making the protective clothing. He also added that a full PPE unit would require at least 5 meters of the material each.
He also added that their workshop has been working since Friday, March 27 and that they were able to produce at least 20 units in a day. The finished products would then be sent to the State Secretary's Office in Pahang to be distributed to the State Health Department.
Furthermore, Abu Hasan said that their workshop operations continue even on the weekends in order to meet the urgent need for PPEs as the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise. He also stated that prison staff ahve also been in attendance at at PPE manufacturing briefing on March 2, to make sure that the PPEs they produce would be up to par with the required standard.
Meanwhile, in Tennessee, more than 100 inmates in their Department of Corrections facilities are also making PPEs, including suits and facemasks for the state's medical facilities using materials donated by private group and individuals and have delivered at elast 1,000 face masks.
According to TDOC spokesperson Faith Seifuddin, the inmates themselves proactively asked to contribute and were looking for any available opportunities wherein they can help in the fight against COVID-19.
In a statement sent by a spokesperson of Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, it was noted that the state is hoping that the TDOC can produce at least 2,500 masks and 300 gowns per day. They also said that help from the inmates will be a significant supplement and help to solve the problem in the scarcity of PPEs.
The protective equipment are being manufactured in two TDOC facilities in West and East Tennessee. The Tyvek gowns are producing in Henning at the West Tennessee State Penitentiary, while the masks are being made at the Morgan County Correctional Complex in Wartburg.
There are currently 80 inmates helping in the production of gowns in Henning, while there are 25 inmates working on mask production in Morgan County.
Seifuddin also stated that, although it is not yet determined how much the inmates would be paid for their help, it was already confirmed that their labor would be compensated.