Approximately 12,500 Ebola virus capsules can fit side by side through a hole the size of a pinprick in a piece of clothing, and because exposure to just a few of the capsules can cause infection, protective barriers are a must for those who come into contact with patients. Lakeland Industries, a global manufacturer of protective clothing based in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., is one of a few companies that sews the plastic ChemMAX and MicroMAX suits that health care workers wear as shields.
As a result of the recent Ebola outbreak, Lakeland estimates that it received orders for about one million suits between late September and early November—a number that does not include requests for hoods, foot coverings and gloves. To accommodate the demand, its primary factory in Shandong Province, China, has hired more employees and invested in new machinery. By January the company expects its typical monthly production will have doubled.