Under Armour to donate medical supplies to Maryland hospitals

Under Armour has started to produce face shields, fabric face masks, and “specially equipped fanny packs” to donate to local Maryland hospitals in response to the covid-19 pandemic. The sportswear company, headquartered in Baltimore, is also exploring the production of hospital gowns and N-95 face masks.

In Maryland, the need for medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) necessary to prevent the spread of the virus is greater than ever. The state received only one third of face shields, respirator masks, and surgical masks that it requested from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), according to a report issued by the House Oversight and Reform Committee on March 30.  

Under Armour is partnering with the University of Maryland Medical System (UMMS), which oversees 13 hospitals, and Life Bridge, a non-profit healthcare organization in Baltimore. They are also in discussion with other local hospitals such as Johns Hopkins Medicine and MedStar. 
Shashi Arnold

Under Armour has been collaborating coast to coast to produce and design medical equipment. “More than 50 Under Armour teammates, from materials scientists to footwear and apparel designers from laboratories in Baltimore and Portland quickly came together in search of solutions,” Randy Harward, Senior Vice President of Advanced Material and Manufacturing Innovation, wrote in an Under Armour press release. "When the call came in from our local medical providers for more masks, gowns and supply kits, we just went straight to work." 

After Harward listened to an interview with an Italian doctor emphasizing the need for masks, the Under Armour team focused on designing a mask that could be mass-produced quickly. The team chose a simple design that folds as opposed to one that requires sewing in the manufacturing process. Because of the design, machines are able to cut 100 pieces of fabric at once and produce 100,000 masks a week. 

Twenty-thousand of these masks were delivered to the Johns Hopkins health system on April 6. After their arrival, 50 volunteers folded and sorted the masks, which reached non clinical staff and patients just two days later. 

Johns Hopkins, which also conducts covid-19 research, expressed gratitude to Under Armour for the donation. "As we move to ensure that everyone at Johns Hopkins Medicine has an adequate supply, we are so thankful for support from local businesses and community groups,” Paul Rothman, dean of the medical faculty and CEO of Johns Hopkins Medicine, said to Johns Hopkins’ News Center.

Under Armour has also donated 1,300 face shields to UMMS, and is expected to donate 500,000 fabric face masks, 1,000 other face shields, and 50,000 “specially equipped fanny packs,” which will include supplies for a type of personal preparedness kit for frontline medical professionals. 

“We are incredibly grateful for Under Armour’s investment in our health care workers, patients, and each Marylander working hard to prevent the spread of coronavirus,” Mohan Suntha, President and CEO of UMMS, said in a news release. “Their willingness and ability to immediately pivot their manufacturing focus to help meet our personal protective equipment (PPE) needs will save lives.”

UMMS adopted a “universal masking policy” in early April, which means that everyone in the hospitals, even non-clinical staff, need a form of personal protective equipment upon entrance into the facility.  

“Having the right equipment makes all the difference in caring for patients and keeping the hospital operational,” UMMS said in a statement. “We appreciate Under Armour’s shared commitment to community, and this partnership will be instrumental in Maryland addressing COVID-19.” 

Under Armour is also exploring producing medical gowns for patients and N-80 and N-95 masks for doctors and nurses on the front lines.

All of the equipment is being designed at Under Armour’s “Lighthouse,” a design innovation think tank in Baltimore. 

I’m incredibly proud of the quick thinking and hard work of all our Under Armour teammates as we work with health care professionals to strengthen our community—teamwork has proven to be key,” Paul Frisk, CEO of Under Armour said in a press release.  

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