As requirements are eased across the country, there’s still a need for some of the most protective kinds of masks.

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Health care workers require PPE while taking care of patients, and a manufacturer in Lakeland has been there to provide some of the life-saving supplies.

“We believe we can compete with China from a cost standpoint without compromising the efficacy of the respirator itself,” said Matt Muller, president of Advanced Concept Innovations in Lakeland.  

As the pandemic gripped the country, ACI launched one of the nation’s largest production lines for N95 respirator masks. Muller says the venture has employed hundreds of Polk County residents. 

“We’re able to create jobs for the engineers and the hundreds of other people who work here,” Muller said. “We currently have over 450 employees, and we’ve been fortunate — we’ve added over 300 jobs since this time last year.” 

And those employees have been busy. ACI has produced 90 million masks and has the ability to churn out 1.5 million every day. 

“Unfortunately, health care personnel were forced to use these masks for several shifts — sometimes for seven days, two weeks — you hear the horror stories,” Muller said. “We’re hoping to be a part of that solution.”  

He told Spectrum Bay News 9 that ACI will continue to produce the equipment those on the front lines need to stay safe.