PITTSBORO — Gov. Roy Cooper paid a visit to the Gilero manufacturing facility in Pittsboro last Thursday to see how personal protective equipment is produced.
Gilero, a medical device maker with a second location in Morrisville, shifted its production focus in April to help fight the spread of COVID-19, as reported by the News + Record at the time. As the pandemic quickly overwhelmed the country, company employees worked nights, weekends and breaks to assemble 3-D-printed face shields for health care facilities, according to Kaitlyn Shaffer, Gilero’s marketing communications manager.
Since then, Gilero has expanded its services to include construction of negative pressure environments for hospital beds and packaging nasal swabs used in COVID-19 test kits.
“We are glad so many companies like Gilero answered our call to begin making personal protective equipment when the pandemic hit,” Cooper said during a tour of the plant. “These supplies help us slow the spread of the virus and keep people safe.”
Since the pandemic began in March, North Carolina has distributed more than 19 million face coverings, 12 million procedure masks and one million face shields. Gilero is a major contributor of face shields to the state and other health agencies having produced more than 800,000.
“When the pandemic hit, we felt it was our moral and civic duty to help in some way,” said Gilero Chief Executive Officer Ted Mosler. “We expedited the design and manufacturing of the face shield. We’re grateful to Governor Cooper and the departments of Emergency Management and Health and Human Services for the opportunity to help protect the front line workers of North Carolina who risk so much each day to battle this virus.”
Governor Cooper’s visit follows a tightening of the state’s mask requirements. Last week’s executive order prescribed with clearer language than in previous mandates that everyone must wear a mask whenever associating with someone from another household. The order also added the mask requirement to several new settings including any public indoor space even when maintaining 6 feet of distance, gyms even when exercising, all schools public and private and all public or private transportation when traveling with people outside of the household.
Last week’s order also requires large retail businesses with more than 15,000 square feet to have an employee stationed near entrances ensuring mask wearing and implementing occupancy limits for patrons who enter.
This week, on Tuesday, Cooper announced in a press conference the institution of a statewide curfew to begin on Friday, Dec. 11. North Carolina residents will be required to stay home from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. and businesses with on-site alcohol consumption will have to stop serving at 9 p.m. The curfew will last at least until Jan. 8, according to the order.
“Our new modified Stay At Home order aims to limit gatherings and get people home where they are safer,” Cooper said, “especially during the holidays.”
The added restrictions come as North Carolina faces increasing COVID-19 spread and hospitalization rates. On the day of Cooper’s Gilero visit, the state reported 5,637 new cases, shattering the previous daily record by more than 1,000 cases. By Saturday, the record had reached 6,438. As the pandemic’s severity continues to intensify, the work of companies such as Gilero become more critical to the state’s overall health.
“We continue developing products to protect these workers, and now, to improve the rapid detection of the virus,” Mosler said, “because our work force wants to use their skills and capabilities to make a difference.”
Reporter D. Lars Dolder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @dldolder.
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