By Liz Collin

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A southwest Minnesota company turning out twist ties has shifted operations to focus on the COVID-19 fight.

WCCO got a look at the work in Worthington they say will help to shield hospital staff from getting sick.

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What started in a garage in Worthington grew to the largest twist tie manufacture in the world, taking simple ideas to solve every day problems has been the mission of Bedford Industries since.

Jay Milbrandt is President of Bedford Industries.

“We grabbed a team together, engineers, production how to we get a face mask by the end of the day,” Milbrandt said.

It’s why when they learned of the severe medical supply shortage to protect people on the frontlines from COVID-19 they went to work.

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“Just within a day we had prototypes ready to go and into the hands of our local hospitals to test out and give us some feedback,” he added.

Bedford has long made the nose wire used in medical masks.  But, this new shield goes one step further.

“It’s easy to put on and easy to adjust. The intention is it’s used with those N-95 respirator masks to protect them against splashes and the idea is to get multiple uses out of the N95 masks,” Milbrandt explained.

The shields are now awaiting FDA approval which Bedford expect to happen any day now.  Once it does, the company expects to produce up to 50,000 a day.  Perhaps doubling that number if the need is there.

“Hospitals are saying this is great.  This is a game changer for us because we can conserve the surgical face masks, they can get more uses out of those,” Milbrandt said.

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“We’re stepping up, we’re saying we have the technology and capabilities that we’re ready to deploy today,” he said.

Liz Collin