From hand sanitizer to face masks, Huntsville businesses support fight against COVID-19

single-meta-cal March 26, 2020

A local brewery is doing its part to help stop the spread of coronavirus in Huntsville.

Forced to close its taproom earlier this month due to COVID-19, Yellowhammer Brewery turned a bad situation into a positive one by converting its production line to make hand sanitizer.

Co-founder Ethan Couch said they’ve seen a quick response from law enforcement, health departments, first responders, medical offices and manufacturers in need of alcohol-based hand cleaner.

“We need to do whatever is possible to support them in this fight,” he said. “They are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the good of humanity, and we need to back them up with everything we’ve got.”

Producing hand sanitizer in lieu of alcohol allows Yellowhammer staff to continue working and earning a paycheck.

“By shifting this way, we have our production team running at full speed, and we’ve even brought our taproom staff to aid in the production of the sanitizer,” Couch said. “My goal is to keep everyone on our team employed and busy.”

Coming together

Yellowhammer isn’t the only local business that has stepped up. Others are also assisting with critical healthcare needs, such as creating or donating personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Different people on our team have been reaching out to our large employers to ask for any extra protective eyewear or masks they might have in their supply that they don’t need right now,” said Claire Aiello, vice president of marketing and communications for the Huntsville/Madison County Chamber. “Companies heard our call for assistance and have been responding since early this week. It is great to see.”

We know there is strength in numbers, and we and our members are committed to getting through this together.”

Gloves, masks, goggles, gowns, respirators and other PPE allow healthcare workers to protect themselves while treating infectious patients. However, a nationwide shortage of these critical items threatens doctors, nurses and other front-line workers who need them in the fight against COVID-19.

Seeing local businesses come together to help support this effort has been eye-opening, Chamber CEO Chip Cherry said.

“We are incredibly grateful for the response from our business community to help our hospitals and first responders stock up on their supplies,” he said. “It has been so good to see boxes of items come in over the last few days. We know these will help in the days to come. We know there is strength in numbers, and we and our members are committed to getting through this together.”

More support

Phoenix hopes to begin making face masks and shields for a local hospital as early as next week. Wes Tyler, vice president of manufacturing and business development for the organization, said they’ve submitted PPE prototypes and are waiting for approval.

The nonprofit’s manufacturing facility on 2939 Johnson Road makes a lot of items that support the warfighter. For 25 years, they’ve also produced internment burial flags for U.S. military veterans who have passed away.

Creating PPE aligns with Phoenix’s mission to recognize those who risk their health and safety to serve others, Tyler said.

“We’re honored to try to help in any way that we can and continue on our organizational standard and legacy that we’re going to do everything we can to take care of the men and women who have served,” he said.

When we look back at COVID-19, it won’t be the number of cases or how well we practiced social distancing that make history. It will be the way our community came together during a difficult time that people will remember.

As COVID-19 develops, Mayor Tommy Battle said the generosity of our area businesses will help strengthen Huntsville going forward.

“This community has been good to our business base and, as a result, our business base is reciprocating,” he said. “The construction/manufacturing community has gathered 1,500 pair of construction protective glasses for the healthcare industry, the local banks are providing incentives to help pay monthly loan payments, and industry is pitching in to provide food in the Title schools. Story after story can be told of people and companies helping others.”

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