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Tallahassee companies prepare for increased mask demand as COVID-19 cases climb

Posted at 6:41 PM, Jun 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-23 18:41:30-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — As commissioner's decide if masks should be mandatory in Leon County, many are already getting more masks to stay protected.

Halisi Africa is one of many businesses in Tallahassee making masks and the owners say they've seen more interest in masks in the last couple of weeks and they're not the only ones.

While positive cases of coronavirus grow in Florida so does the demand for masks and face coverings.

"Now we have a stockpile of masks so that, god forbid, if this second wave does take shape and we have to take drastic measures we're starting in front instead of behind," said Mitchell Nelson, the co-founder of Divvy Up.

Divvy Up went from making socks to masks, producing about 47,000 to give away around town thanks to a partnership with the City of Tallahassee.

"Just a random Friday afternoon, my phone rang," Nelson said. "It was the mayor asking if we would be able to source or make some masks in the city considering we're one of the only textile companies in the area."

To make it easier to find masks made by Divvy Up and others in the community, Barbara Wescott put all of that information on the Masks for Tally website.

"Initially, there was a lot of effort to get the masks out, then there was a lull," said Westcott. "But during it we saw numbers go up and people have really started realizing this is something we really got to work on."

The owners of Halisi Africa have taken time to help protect lower income communities like Bond and Providence with masks. But they're also seeing more people buying their custom, hand-made masks.

"In general, we've gotten a lot of sales in the last two weeks," said Vanessa Byrd, the co-owner of Halisi Africa. "People just really appreciate, not that we have the mask, but ones with logos on them like Black Lives Matter."

As more people look to protect themselves from COVID-19 masks makers say they're ready for the demand.

The DivvyUp factory is capable of producing 10,000 to 15,000 masks per week and they've given 5,000 masks to Tallahassee Memorial.