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Hazmat suit manufacturer has received orders for 1 million protective suits due to Ebola

The hazmat suit manufacturing business, normally predictably mundane, has taken off in recent weeks, thanks to the worsening Ebola crisis, but the number of suits ordered from one company certainly makes one pause and ask: “Just what aren’t we being told yet about the spread of this deadly disease?”

According to a company press release in September, Lakeland Industries, Inc., announced that it had received a major order for its suits — for well into the foreseeable future, as a direct result of the outbreak:

In anticipation of the worsening of the Ebola crisis, on September 12 the Company announced its intent to increase manufacturing capacity for specialty protective suits to be worn by healthcare workers and others being exposed to Ebola. The Company has been experiencing significant interest globally for its ChemMAXRR and MicroMAXRR protective suit lines.

‘100 percent manufacturing increase by January’

The company, in its release, said that select lines of hazmat suits are manufactured using “proprietary processes” that produce “specialized seam sealing,” which are said to be highly effective against Biosafety Level 4 toxins and incurable viruses like Ebola. The company said it has received so much new business that it has had to invest in new manufacturing capacity to “accommodate higher levels of output,” as well as increased spending for more raw materials to make the suits. Finally, the added business is great enough that the company has been forced to hire and train additional staff to keep up with demand.

“Recent developments have enabled us to strengthen our balance sheet, increase forward cash flow from the elimination of interest service on expensive debt, and increase production capacity to contribute to the fight against the spread of Ebola which has led to a material improvement in our business,” said Christopher J. Ryan, CEO of Lakeland Industries, Inc. “At the same time, we have also been experiencing an improvement in operating conditions for the balance of our business globally. I am very proud of the way the worldwide team of Lakeland Industries has responded to the Ebola crisis while continuing to provide the highest level of service and quality garments to our traditional customers.”

Already, monthly production of the two specialized suit lines — ChemMAX and MicroMAX — has climbed 50 percent since August, and that was prior to Ebola-related demand. Production is on track for a 100 percent increase by January, “with the ability for additional increases as needed,” the company press release added.

“The Company will continue to service its industrial customers who are dependent upon Lakeland to conduct their work safely. The expanded capacity is necessary in order to meet obligations for both traditional customers as well as for protection against the spread of Ebola,” the press release said.

Deaths keep mounting in West Africa

The current outbreak — the worst since the virus was first discovered in 1976 — continues to spread, primarily through the three West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, where the first case arose earlier this year.

So far, according to the most recent figures at press time, nearly 5,000 people have died from the disease, most of them in Liberia. The world’s rich countries continue to pour aid into the region, in a bid to both contain the virus and end the outbreak. On Oct. 30, a British aid ship, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Argus (RFA Argus) docked in Sierra Leone, the BBC reported, with food, medical equipment and 32 pickup trucks to help distribute the aid and provide support to local officials.

Also, American troops have been dispatched to the countries, to build a series of medical clinics and field hospitals — a decision that has been criticized by some as an irresponsible use of the military on the part of the Obama administration. Still, other U.S. aid continues to flow into the affected countries.

But the orders being placed with Lakeland suggest that health officials, in the U.S. and abroad, are anticipating a long, hard battle to contain the deadly virus, which causes a mostly-fatal form of hemorrhagic fever.

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