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Prestige Cleaners making masks for health care workers

Businesses are learning to adapt during these uncertain times. For some, that means using the materials they have to create something new.

Small, local businesses continue to feel the harsh impacts of Covid-19. While many have had to shut their doors and lay off employees, there are some that have found ways to adapt.

 The whir of sewing machines fills the warehouse at Prestige Cleaners these days. 

Employees are hard at work cutting fabric and sewing masks for health care workers.

The company is known mainly for their dry cleaning, tuxedo rentals and alterations, but they've now taken the materials and skill sets they had to start a new venture. 

"I was faced with how can I keep these employees and pay them," Prestige Cleaners founder Eddie Mannis said. "We started making masks casually for people because we had alterations department, to keep those people working"

Now, their warehouse has become a production line. 

"It's probably an entrepreneurial spirit. What can we do? What can we do to help? It's amazing when you start thinking through that process, we have elastic, twist ties, you are just improvising and making due with whatever you have and that's what we are doing," Mannis said.

What started as just donations has evolved as a way for the company to make money to pay workers and allow them to keep their jobs.

"We got a call from a local medical facility saying 'we need masks, we saw on social media you were making them can you help us, we just do not know what this will mean for us'," Mannis said.

They are hoping to produce 8,000 to 10,000 masks this week. 

"We are trying to make masks that do have a filtration, and a little more protection than cloth masks," Mannis explained.

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Meanwhile, the company is also doing medical laundry services for doctors offices and hospitals. 

"Every day is a new day. We have no idea what we are coming into so I am flying by the seat of my pants every day now trying to adapt and see what we are going to do," Mannis said.

As a business owner, Mannis got emotional talking about how its been to see the affects on his employees.

"It's been hard for me, I'm accustomed to having answers but its been hard," Mannis said. "It's been hard to answer their questions 'well am I going to get paid, how will I get paid?'" Look we will work together and do everything possible."

Prestige Cleaners is collecting any community donations of handmade masks. You can drop them off through their drive thru at certain Prestige locations. They will take those masks, make them compliant, then donate them to whoever is at need: assisted livings, nursing homes and people who are high risk. 

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