Assisting communities during pandemic

Published on April 27th, 2020

Two of the dominant companies in boating use their resources to contribute during the COVID-19 pandemic.


West Marine is working with multiple researchers to transform Ocean Reef snorkel masks into respirators for hospitals and health care systems. After several weeks of testing and coordination with Ocean Reef, the manufacturer of the snorkel masks, the masks are ready to be distributed to hospitals and health care systems around the country.

“We kept seeing reports of scuba masks with the potential of being adapted into respirators and we realized this was a real possibility to do our part during this pandemic,” said Ken Seipel, CEO of West Marine.

“We’ve worked closely with all of these organizations to develop the appropriate adaptor for the masks and as the masks continue to be deemed acceptable PPE, we are ready to begin distributing over the next few weeks.”

West Marine plans on distributing approximately 1,200 masks to hospitals able to utilize the adapted masks. Ocean Reef has also pledged to donate the same number of adaptors so hospitals will receive the full kit. Details.


To address the growing shortage of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for professionals in the medical field, Harken is active in a consortium with other regional businesses tackling a clear mission: build a million healthcare-grade masks. Many of these masks will be used in patient care environments in local Wisconsin hospitals such as the Medical College of Wisconsin.

“When people cough or talk, particles and droplets come out of the mouth, and they’re stopped in the mask itself, so they don’t spread into the air,” said Dr. Christopher Davis from the Medical College of Wisconsin. These masks play an essential role as a bridge for healthcare workers waiting for the highly coveted N95 masks to arrive.

Harken’s role in the One Million Masks initiative is to sew and assemble, a big task for a million masks. However, as the production model gets more stable and efficient, the consortium has become more optimistic about production quotas; now, the project has been upped to 3.5 million masks. Details.

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