Simpson’s Pharmasave staff are feeling a little safer at work thanks to the efforts of Calhoun Sportswear in St. Catharines.
Pharmacy owner Sean Simpson said he ordered about 60 masks from Calhoun after seeing a news story about the company converting sportswear production to mask production due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After bringing the masks to the pharmacy on Friday he said he posted pictures of them online to let people know they are available.
Right now the pharmacy is getting a lot of requests from people looking for masks, he said, and the cloth masks, while not as effective as an N95, can help prevent aerosol transmission, and prevent taking critical supplies from front-line workers.
“You know, certainly there is a huge shortage for people on the front lines and health care providers, which is why we’ve been encouraging people to let the health care workers get their hands on masks before the general public, but these cloth masks are good for both,” he said.
“They’re not as effective as an N95 or a surgical mask, but we know that anything that can reduce respiratory droplet transmission can be helpful.”
He said for people looking for masks, he has 150 more on order, but encourages people to try to bundle together and order from Calhoun directly.
There is “scientific data” that shows even cloth masks can be effective, he noted.
“N95 is the gold standard and reduces transmission most effectively,” he said. “But, at the end of the day, if you look at some of the graphics around how aerosols are formed even just from talking, coughing and other stuff, they’re pretty helpful.”
He said the company also has descriptions of how to properly put on and remove the masks.
Simpson said the store has already made adjustments and limited the store to curbside pickup and delivery because it was “a hard message to get through to the public” about distancing.
“Our staff has felt much safer as a result of those early measures, but there’s still face-to-face interaction when we do go out to people at their cars, or for delivery drivers, and so I think it’s just an extra level of safety that we can provide. Everybody has a different opinion as to whether they want to wear one or not, but at least, for those that feel safer, we now have that option.”
Simpson said he’s not sure when his order of masks will arrive, but he said they “may have some available.”
He said the blessing and the curse right now is that more and more people are calling, but it’s been a struggle keeping up with the phones.
The masks will be marked up, so if people want to get them at a reduced cost, he encourages going directly to Calhoun.
“As much as we love being able to distribute everything for people, it’s become a challenge. Working our phone every day has been a huge challenge, which is why we’re encouraging people to contact us electronically.”
He said people should contact the pharmacy through the store’s Facebook page or email him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“And we’ll get to them in due time.”
He said he wants to let people know to stay home and stay calm.
He also thanked the community for doing a good job of social distancing and for the countless volunteers that have stepped up to help.