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NEWS | April 8, 2020

Letterkenny Army Depot Begins Production of Cloth Face Coverings to Protect Workforce

By Dorie Heyer Letterkenny Army Depot

The Letterkenny Army Depot (LEAD) upholstery shop in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, began production of cloth face coverings for employees in accordance with Department of Defense (DoD) guidance.

On April 5, Secretary of Defense, Mark T. Esper, issued guidance for all individuals on DoD installations to wear a cloth face covering when they cannot maintain 6 feet of social distancing.

“The upholstery shop is in the process of making face coverings for the entire depot,” LEAD Commander Col. Gregory K. Gibbons, said in a message to the workforce. “Every employee on the depot will have a face covering this week and should keep it on their person at all times while at work.”

Letterkenny’s Directorate of Industrial Operations authorized the upholstery shop to begin production of the face coverings on April 8, using a stockpile of unused T-shirt material to fuel the initial production. From the available 1,200 shirts, employees can produce four masks per shirt, at a rate of ten masks per minute, according to Jerod Weilacher, director of LEAD’s Directorate of Supply and Transportation. Within two days, depot upholsterers cut 4,800 face coverings which provide two coverings each, to employees and tenants on the installation. Additional material to support continued mask production is due to be delivered in the upcoming week.

Currently, production is focused on supplying Letterkenny employees and its tenants with the required personal protection equipment, but the command will consider producing masks for outside agencies once the internal demand is met.

Readapting current missions and repurposing existing facilities and resources are ways that Letterkenny is supporting the whole-of-nation effort in combatting the COVID-19 pandemic, Gibbons said. He also emphasized the importance of prioritizing the protection of the force to maintain mission readiness.

“While many of the workforce maintain social distancing in their areas, it is very important to be prepared to cover your face as needed. Remember, you are not only protecting yourselves, you are protecting your peers and their families by following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommendations with the use of these simple cloth face coverings,” Gibbons said. “My priorities remain to keep this team safe, execute our mission and to navigate through change daily. We are learning and responding every day, so that we get through this together.”

Editor's Note: As a precautionary measure to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and to provide protection to our Soldiers, the Army is allowing Soldiers to temporarily wear masks. HQDA ask that all leaders and Soldiers use good judgment. Leaders will support any Soldier who wants to wear a mask indoors or outdoors while in uniform. Leaders must use their best judgment when it comes to color, fit and design of facemasks and approach this as a force protection issue.