LOGAN — A Cache Valley-based manufacturing company with offices in Shanghai and Hong Kong is raising funds to supply medical masks to those in need in the valley.
Matt Plott, owner of Muskoka Lifestyle Products, heard about the mask shortage and wondered how his company can use their resources to help.
Plott saw what the mask shortage did to China and hoped the U.S., particularly Cache Valley, would not face the same issues.
As he further watched the crisis unfold, he realized what happened in China was happening in the US and wanted to help solve the problem.
“In having offices overseas, I’ve been watching this from day one,” he said. “Absolutely, we don’t do anything until it’s too late, that’s just how the human race is. We’ve gotten caught in a point now and I noticed that literally no one has this stuff.”
To try and combat the issue by shipping more masks to Utah, Plott decided to host a Facebook fundraiser inviting people to donate to efforts to produce and ship mass quantities of masks to Utah.
“As you have read and heard in the media, masks are not a guaranteed preventive solution, but are ABSOLUTELY proven to dramatically reduce the risk for several VERY obvious reasons,” the Facebook post for the fundraiser reads.
Plott is personally matching each donation, and the Facebook fundraiser currently shows $2,656 has been raised for the effort.
“The demand for these is more than I can absorb,” he said. “As badly as I’d like to be able to fund this on my own going forward, I cannot.”
While the masks Plott has ordered are not currently certified to be used by hospital personnel, they are “much better than nothing,” he said. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention issued an order last week recommending anyone going in public wear something to cover their face.
Plott plans to get FDA-certified N95’s shipped into Intermountain Healthcare Hospitals, but until he is able to do that, these masks will be delivered to assisted living homes, law enforcement departments, fire departments, medical dispatch, life flight and other essential workers and services.
“The essential places where people need to go is where I’m donating all of these masks to be because something is better than nothing,” Plott said.
To try and get ahead of the shortage, Plott paid for the first order himself, $2,500 worth of masks shipped from China to Cache Valley.
“I’m scrambling to get anything I can to clear customs and get into us — it’s going to be the toilet paper thing times a million,” he said, referring to the mass shortage of toilet paper grocery stores faced weeks ago when the pandemic and quarantine began.
When the masks arrive, the first batch will go to assisted living and retirement centers “since they’re the ones who get hit the hardest and have the highest death rate,” Plott said.
After more are imported, Plott will deliver them to first responders, then grocery stores and other essential business workers.
“I’m just trying to get prepared for what specifically is going to happen in my hometown — I really didn’t see anyone doing it in our valley,” he said. “We have these connections already, we’re already importing goods and why not throw the necessities of what’s going on right now.”