Coronavirus inspires fanatics to convert MLB jerseys into medical masks and gowns

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Online retailer Fanatics will use material from Major League Baseball uniforms to make much-needed protective gear for healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, the company announced Thursday.

Fanatics halted production of MLB uniforms and converted its factory in Easton, Pa., to make medical gowns and face masks. For starters, the company will use material originally intended to produce Philadelphia Phillies and New York Yankees uniforms.

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“The COVID-19 crisis has forced our country to be more collaborative, innovative and strategic than ever before,” Fanatics Executive Chairman Michael Rubin said in a statement. “As the demand for masks and gowns has increased, we are fortunate to have partnered with Major League Baseball to find a unique way to support our frontline workers in this fight to stem the virus, who need urgent need of essential resources. ”

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Rubin said Fanatics had started producing up to a million masks and gowns. The goods will be donated to hospitals and other priority destinations in Pennsylvania, with plans to expand deliveries to facilities in New York and New Jersey.

Hospitals across the country have reported severe shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment, or PPE, needed to keep workers safe while treating patients. There were more than 80,000 confirmed individual cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in the United States as of Thursday.

“I am proud that Major League Baseball can partner with Fanatics to help support the brave healthcare workers and emergency personnel who are on the front lines helping patients with COVID-19,” said the MLB Commissioner Robert Manfred in a statement. “They really are heroes.”

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and Attorney General Josh Shapiro reached out to Rubin to assess whether Fanatics could help with mask production, a company spokesperson said. Once MLB officials approved the idea, Fanatics began production.

Fanatics is the official retail partner of MLB, with exclusive rights to produce uniforms for public sale. Nike is the official supplier of MLB uniforms for on-field use.

MLB has delayed the start of its 2020 season due to the coronavirus outbreak. At this time, it is unknown when play can safely resume.

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Neal T. Doss