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Las Vegas company wants to mass-produce masks but needs supplies

Updated March 24, 2020 - 9:33 am

A Las Vegas window covering company is ready and willing to crank out protective masks and gowns for first responders and health care workers.

It is just waiting on the materials to do it.

And a Las Vegas distillery that normally makes alcohol is switching its operations to making hand sanitizer, which has been in high demand since the coronavirus pandemic started.

Polar Shades, a company that makes window shades, said it is willing to convert its manufacturing plant to make the protective equipment, but up until Monday it had faced issues finding suppliers.

“A lot of people are trying to price gouge right now, and now is not the time for it,” said Jordan Mevius, who runs marketing for the company. Her father, Steve, owns the business.

Jordan Mevius said Monday night that the company had ordered most of the materials needed. The company will need to sustain that supply, however. She said mask production is expected to begin once materials arrive.

The company has two high-speed cutting tables that can rapidly produce the protective equipment.

Steve Mevius said his business has the capability to produce more than 8,000 masks and 2,000 gowns daily, and more if he took operations around the clock.

Polar Shades’ offer has caught the attention of some public safety and health officials, including Dr. Luis Medina-Garcia, an infectious disease physician at University Medical Center.

The company has the capability to supply masks broadly but has first set its focus on home.

“Our first concern and priority is for the state of Nevada,” Jordan Mevius said.

North Las Vegas Fire Chief Joseph Calhoun said Henderson Fire Chief Shawn White contacted other valley fire departments about the company last week.

Calhoun said his department is limiting the amount of people who have access to possible COVID-19 patients to conserve protective equipment, he said.

He said the department’s current mask supply should last several weeks.

“But you know, obviously, we can’t just plan for several weeks,” he said.

Meanwhile, another company has plenty of at least one ingredient it needs to retool for the epidemic.

Katalin Racz, owner of Las Vegas Distillery, said her company pivoted to making hand sanitizer since it has a hefty supply of the main ingredient, alcohol.

“We ordered already the other two ingredients, glycerin and hydrogen peroxide,” she said, adding that those are the required ingredients based on the World Health Organization’s standards. “That’s what we need to make the hand sanitizer, and it’s pretty, pretty difficult right now to source it.”

Racz said she placed an order Thursday with a supplier for the two ingredients but is still waiting on a shipment confirmation. Once she receives the items, she’ll be able to employ some of her staff to help make the hand sanitizer.

“The city already put a hold on 5,000 16-ounce bottles because they want to give it to the first responders,” Racz said. “Whatever is left is for the public, but we can make enough. We are happy to help out the community, especially in these dire times.”

For now, she’s waiting to receive the items but said as soon as the product is ready, she’ll begin carrying it at the distillery, where customers can pick up the hand sanitizer.

Contact Blake Apgar at bapgar@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5298. Follow @blakeapgar on Twitter. Review-Journal reporter Subrina Hudson contributed to this story.

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