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Virginia Beach mask-making company lays off 200 employees, sees dramatic drop in demand

Premium-PPE thrived during the peak time of the pandemic where masks were required, but now, the company is seeing a drastic change in its production.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — Premium-PPE produces and sells the brand of masks called Amerishield. In February 2021, the company was producing up to a million masks a day to join President Biden's 100 days of mask-wearing challenge.

Now Premium-PPE managing partner, Brent Dillie, says they had to cut down a majority of the production, saying, "We're running at about 10 to 20% of that capacity."

The company is part of the American Mask Manufacturer's Association. As a whole, these companies on this board had to lay off or furlough 5,000 workers total. 

Premium-PPE laid off or furloughed up to 200 employees. Dillie says the association has approximately 300 million, USA-made masks currently sitting in warehouses across the country 

People, as well as health care providers, just aren't stockpiling the way they did before. Those providers include Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters.

"At this point, we don't really need to," said Dr. Laura Sass, CHKD's Medical Direction of Infection Prevention and Control. "Of course, we're always happy to have donations at the hospital, but right now, we're good."

"China's imports are coming in and undercutting products like ours, American-made products," explained Dillie. "Masks are being sold for a penny or less than a penny in some cases."

Dillie says the next 30 days with negotiations and strategy work for companies like Premium-PPE in the United States will be vital for how they stay afloat, especially if a second wave of the pandemic comes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is still recommending people to continue to mask up when they can, as the new Delta COVID-19 variant poses a threat.

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