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With graduations canceled at high schools and colleges across the country due to the coronavirus, some students are donating unworn gowns to health care workers grappling with personal protective equipment shortages.
Than Moore, a 30-year-old physician assistant from Burlington working on the frontlines of COVID-19 at the University of Vermont Medical Center, was slated to graduate with his MBA at UVM this spring, but when his graduation got postponed, he started an effort to donate gowns to fellow health care workers in need.
"I've noticed my colleagues in other areas across the country practicing without PPE, so I thought about how I could make a difference," Moore told FOX Business.
He started the donation effort Gowns4Good with six of his friends and colleagues. The team began collecting gowns from fellow classmates and alumni and shelled out hundreds of dollars of their own money to ship them out to medical facilities in need.
Since Moore launched the website two weeks ago, more than 47,000 medical facilities across the country and 1,933 gowns have been donated. Health care workers struggling to conserve PPE have used makeshift items like trash bags for gowns and masks cut out from fabrics like bed sheets when N95 masks are unavailable. Moore says he’s been storing his N95 mask, intended for one-time use, in a paper bag to conserve supplies.
Colleges across the country have canceled or postponed traditional commencement ceremonies after universities across the country shuttered beginning in March. Harvard and Michigan State University have virtual ceremonies planned instead.
As a result, companies like Jostens, which makes graduation products like class rings, yearbooks and around 3 million graduation gowns for high school and college students annually, pivoted its production to manufacture health care products like non-surgical cloth face masks and disposable isolation gowns to combat the spread of COVID-19.
So far, the Minneapolis-based company has produced around 85,000 masks and 30,000 gowns per week between its three manufacturing facilities, a spokesman for the company told FOX Business.