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Coronavirus: Austin business moves from making aprons to cloth masks for public protection

Friday afternoon, the CDC and White House made a recommendation that people, healthy or not, should wear cloth masks if they leave their homes.

AUSTIN, Texas — For the past 10 years, Savilino Apron and Leathercraft Design has done just that -- make leather products for hotel and restaurant workers.

For the past two weeks or so, owner Chris Savittiere and dozens of employees have gotten to work making cloth masks instead.

When every restaurant in town shut down, we realized we were shut down too," Savittiere said. 

His team makes the masks with double layering and elastic bands on either side to give double the protection. Savittiere advised it's great for large particles, but is not nearly as protective as an N95 mask. 

"We’re producing for the public in an effort to help keep the N95 masks in the hands of the medical care professionals who need them the most," Savittiere said.

On Friday afternoon, the CDC and White House made recommendations for the public to wear cloth masks, but warned hand-washing and social distancing were still better ways to protect yourself. 

ICYMI: Chris Savittiere, owner of SAVILINO, and his team have made 5000 cloth masks for people to protect themselves against coronavirus.

Posted by Mike Marut on Friday, April 3, 2020

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"When you have a mask on, not only does it help keep you from touching your own face and mouth, but also, I think, promotes awareness for people that we all need to be taking extra precautions," Savittiere said.

The shop owner emphasized his business needed to adapt in order to both serve the public and survive while restaurants, bars and hotels are seeing far fewer customers.

“We’re selling them," Savittiere said. "We have to cover our costs and we have recruited a pretty large army of people to help us: all people who have been laid off and who need some work. We’re trying to keep as many people employed as possible. We’re not trying to make huge profits or anything, we’re just trying to keep people working.”

If you would like to place an order for a mask, head to the Savilino website. Savittiere added his team sanitizes the masks as best they can, but recommends a customer machine-wash the mask prior to first use.

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