The company which manufactures official team uniforms for Major League Baseball is putting production on hold in order to produce masks and gowns for workers on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
Michael Rubin, the billionaire owner of Fanatics, said the company's manufacturing plant in Easton, Pennsylvania, was hoping to produce up to 1 million masks and gowns for hospital workers.
An initial batch of masks and gowns have already been produced using fabric initially intended for New York Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies jerseys.
The garments will be distributed through Pennsylvania and New York, which has become the worst hit region of the pandemic in the United States.
"The COVID-19 crisis has compelled our country to be more collaborative, innovative and strategic than ever before," said Rubin, who is also a co-owner of the Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils.
"As the demand for masks and gowns has surged, we're fortunate to have teamed up with Major League Baseball to find a unique way to support our frontline workers in this fight to stem the virus, who are in dire need of essential resources."
In a series of posts on Twitter, Rubin praised MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for giving the plan the green light.
"Thanks to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred for not only agreeing to halting production of MLB jerseys, but also doing everything possible to make this happen as quickly as possible!" Rubin wrote. Fanatics initiative has been mirrored by Bauer, an ice hockey equipment manufacturer, which has begun making face shields to protect health workers dealing with COVID-19 cases.
"Right now, we're all on the same team," Bauer wrote on Twitter. "We're repurposing our facilities to make face shields so that medical professionals battling COVID-19 can safely continue to help those most vulnerable."
Staff at medical facilities across the US have repeatedly complained of shortages of protective gear as they treat COVID-19 patients. A report on Thursday said staff at one New York hospital had even used plastic trash bags as gowns to combat the shortfall.