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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team has found local companies now making tens of millions of masks to help protect workers in Ohio from COVID-19.

The state has ordered 23 million masks to slow the spread of COVID-19. All will be given to government workers and workers for private businesses covered by workers comp.

The Ohio Bureau Of Workers Compensation has contracted with a Cleveland company, Buckeye Mask, plus a local non-profit group, Career Development and Placement Strategies.

Buckeye Mask will make nearly half of the order.

There, Carla Macklin, told the I-Team, “If you asked me a year ago what I’d be doing in December 2020, this is not anywhere near what I was expecting for my life.”

She added, Buckeye Mask is a new company formed due to the demand.

“We’re taking a slightly different approach. Investing in the machinery that sews for us, training our operators at a really high level,” Macklin said.

Career Development and Placement Strategies is a non-profit group serving Northeast Ohio. The group has become part of the massive mask-making effort for the state, promising to produce 13 million masks while doing it with workers who’ve needed a hand.

“You ramp up. You get the equipment. You’re still recruiting folks,” Maurice Stevens, president of the organization, said. “Our folks are, for some reason or other, unemployed or underemployed, and for some reason on some sort of assistance from the county.”

Stevens said the workers “have a commitment to do what they can to get back on their feet.”

This comes as the second round of production for the state. Earlier, the state contracted with the other companies. Millions more masks first ended up getting produced out-of-state. Everything being produced locally will go to workers in Ohio through the first half of next year.

At Buckeye Mask, we watched another load of materials get dropped off. The people running the production lines say they can churn out the orders as long as they have supplies. But, supplies are not always easy to order with so much demand.

“Our biggest day last week was 40,000 in one day. We’re hoping to get up to about 54,000,” Macklin said.

Buckeye Mask continues to hire employees while producing masks six days a week.

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