Augusta medical supply factory helps fight Coronavirus

(Source: WRDW/WAGT)
Published: Feb. 12, 2020 at 2:29 PM EST
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Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020

News 12 at 5:30 and 6 o'clock

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The medical masks made at United Medical Enterprises off Mike Padgett Highway in Augusta get shipped to countries all over the world, including China.

On an average day, the company (affiliated with Medicom) produces about 185,000 masks per day. Due to the increased demand from the Coronavirus, they've pumped up production to 210,000 masks per day. But by July, United Medical Enterprises President Herschel Pitts estimates the factory will make nearly 500,000 medical masks every day.

"This virus has really put everybody a scale up as far as manufacturing," said Pitts.

He also says the factory plans to increase its operating hours.

"We're running two nine-hour shifts right now," said Pitts. "In the next four weeks, we're going to three shifts. So we'll be running 24 hour a day, six days a week."

Right now United Medical Enterprises has seven machines, but in order to accommodate the need for more masks, they're building four more.

"I just set aside over $1 million just to build these machines to get them going by July," said Pitts.

It's not the first time this factory has been called to fight in the war on deadly viruses. Back in 2002, when SARS was on everyone's minds, this company was also put on the front lines. But Pitts says, it was nothing like this.

"It was eye-opening then, but this is a lot more serious than what we had then," he said.

Even though production numbers will increase nearly three-fold, Pitts says he isn't concerned about the quality of the product suffering.

"We're under FDA regulations. So, it doesn't matter how many we make. If we make 10 or 20, it's the same thing. We have to keep our quality the way it is," he said.

The medical masks may not look like much, but virus or no virus, the products made here can mean the difference between life and death.

"The products we do put out save lives every day, no matter what," said Pitts.

With more production comes the need for more employees. United Medical Enterprises says they're looking to hire local maintenance workers and machine operators, who will do their part to prevent the spread of deadly germs.

The latest death toll reports say that 1,100 people have died from the Coronavirus, and more than 42,000 people are infected in 28 different countries.

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