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The Cherokee Response to Covid-19: Face Masks, Made in the Cherokee Nation

February 10, 2021

In early September, when a shortage of medical masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19 swept the country, the Cherokee Nation decided it was time to make its own.

“We felt we needed to help try to fill that gap,” Cherokee Nation Chief of Staff Todd Enlow told Native News Online. “One of the things we looked at was face mask production.

Beginning in March, the Cherokee Nation will open two factories — one renovated, one newly built — that will enable it to produce between 100,000 to 200,000 masks a day. Using special machines purchased from overseas, the Cherokee Nation will manufacture N95, N99 and three-ply surgical masks. The company doesn’t yet have a name for the manufacturing entity, Enlow said. 

Cherokee Nation will be among few manufacturers in the country to make N99 masks, a medical-grade mask the tribe anticipates will be the adopted standard of the future, according to Enlow.

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