EDMONTON -- GearHalo is a local company that makes deodorizer pods for smelly sports gear, but decided to retool its production floor when the pandemic hit. 

“It took some time, about eight days, from start to finish, to the first mask being produced,” said Peter Konidas, the company’s national sales manager. 

Employees on the factory floor are now making masks for health workers on the frontlines of COVID-19. Producing about 1,000 pieces a day, sending shipments to 14 facilities in Alberta and Saskatchewan. 

“Hospitals, as I understand are in pretty good shape, but the long term care facilities...we’ve seen are in more need,” said Konidas, who added the masks are designed, in part, to increase the usefulness of N95 masks used by health professionals

“The mask was kind of created in a way so that it can also extend the useful life of the N95 mask, which as you know is in short supply. So our mask is worn both as a regular mask and also as a cover mask.”

The company was giving away the masks initially but plans to increase production. It is now donating one mask for every two purchased.

“We don’t want to stop giving. We want to be able to continue that as we sell, because we’ve got to be able to continue the production line,” said Konidas, who hopes other local manufacturers will consider retooling during the pandemic.

“I think we all need to look at our operations and see what we can do here.”