Rhode Island factory to ramp up face mask production

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A customer wearing a face mask and gloves goes shopping in the early morning in a supermarket in the Berlin district of Friedenau, Germany, Tuesday, March 17, 2020 In order to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, the German government has considerably restricted public life. Only for most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. (Kay Nietfeld/dpa via AP)

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (AP) — A Rhode Island factory is ramping up production of specialized face masks in response to the federal fight against the new coronavirus.

Honeywell said Sunday it plans to hire 500 people at its Smithfield plant to produce millions of N95 disposable respirators to help support the need for critical safety equipment. The face masks will be delivered to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and are a critical piece of personal protective equipment for health care, safety and emergency response workers.

The Smithfield factory normally produces eye protection products, including safety glasses, safety goggles and protective face shields.

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