PLANT CITY, Fla. — A Bay Area athletic wear company has become a major supplier of surgical masks for the BayCare Health System.

  • Bolder Athletic Wear set to produce 10,000 masks a week
  • Material for masks being supplied by BayCare
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Bolder Athletic Wear produces unique items like fancy running skirts for women at its Plant City warehouse. But business dropped way off with social distancing directives, as people were no longer running in races or going to the gym. 

Faced with their new circumstances, the company made a connection with BayCare and secured a deal to produce 10,000 masks a week.

BayCare, who will provide the fabric and specifications for the masks, said it hasn’t been able to get masks from its usual suppliers because of the high demand during the coronavirus pandemic.

“They have to fit right,” said Bolder owner Leah Powell. “They have to have the right mechanisms on the inside to keep it on the nose, fit around the ears. The fabric has a filter in it.”

The dozen or so women working on sewing machines and other workers all wear the masks while they work. Safety is a big deal. 

“With every break and, of course, any time anyone steps away from their machine, they have to sanitize everything,” said Powell.

For their part, the workers seem to have a sense of patriotic duty while they work.

"Yea, I say that is a good way to look at it,” said Machell VonGlahn as she sewed. “Definitely, helping out when the country needs it.”

Powell said is grateful for the work.

“So now we’ve called everyone back,” she said. “Everyone is full-time. We may even need to go into some overtime, so I think they are thrilled about that.”

BayCare said it uses about 10,000 surgical masks at its facilities each week.