‘Made in NC’ Initiative Unites Public and Private Sector to Deliver Vital COVID-19 PPE to Health Care Workers Statewide

September 28, 2020

SAP Partners

New collaboration will produce nearly 2 million N95 respirators per year to address the urgent need for affordable access to essential personal protective equipment (PPE) in communities that need them most.

DURHAM, N.C. – Organizations from both the public and private sector have teamed up to launch the Made in NC initiative, a collaboration between Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC), North Carolina State University’s Nonwovens Institute, Freudenberg Performance Materials, UNC Health, the NC Healthcare Association Strategic Partners and NC Medical Society to manufacture and distribute N95 respirators that will serve the needs of North Carolina health care workers during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and increase equity in access to personal protective equipment (PPE) in communities that need them most.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for N95 respirators and other PPE has outpaced current US manufacturing capabilities, resulting in supply chain challenges in delivering an efficient and reliable source at a reasonable cost. The shortage of critical supplies has left health care providers and essential workers at a higher risk of infection.

The Made in NC collaboration will produce an initial 100,000 to 200,000 N95 respirators per month with plans to quickly ramp up, right here in North Carolina, providing a more consistent and affordable source of PPE for local health care providers. Collaborating organizations include:

  • Blue Cross NC provided an initial investment of $450,000 for the purchase of two molding machines capable of producing safe and reliable N95 respirators locally, as well as for the procurement of materials and supplies used for the production of these respirators.
  • NC State’s Nonwovens Institute developed a new, unique spunbond material that is cost-efficient and serves as an effective filter for N95 respirators without the need for additional filtration layers, in addition to a unique meltblown filter media for N95 respirators. 
  • Freudenberg Performance Materials will provide the manufacturing expertise and workforce needed to install, operate and maintain the new converting lines in North Carolina.
  • UNC Health infection prevention experts will perform fit testing to ensure respirators meet industry health and safety standards.
  • NC Healthcare Association Strategic Partners and NC Medical Society will provide support for purchase and distribution.

The initiative aims to ensure the state’s frontline health care workers receive the critical PPE they need to keep themselves and their communities safe.


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