The COVID-19 pandemic has brought changes and disruptions to daily life all across the country, and some of those impacted the most are our very own small and local businesses in Maryland. Many companies are coming up with innovative ways to increase or pivot production and provide support to those in need while keeping up with the coronavirus.
Keeping Maryland clean
The demand for quality disinfectants and sanitizers has never been more relevant. Sterilex, a Hunt Valley-based company, has been at the forefront of sanitizer and disinfectant production in Maryland. The company is currently working at full capacity to keep up with increased demands for products, with a special focus on keeping essential workers and food establishments safe.
“Our products are working each day to keep essential workers safe in food manufacturing and protein processing facilities. And by keeping those workers safe, we're helping to keep a critical industry operational,” said Alex Josowitz, President of Sterilex. “Without a robust and secure food supply chain, we’ll start to see disruptions in supply, which means less food on our shelves and tables.”
Sterilex is working with more than 50 food manufacturers in the state to make sure they are equipped with the products they need to keep plants going. The company was also one of the first to be included on the Environmental Protection Agencies’ List N, which includes disinfectant formulas approved for use against COVID-19.
The “masked crusaders” of Annapolis
Some businesses and organizations are completely pivoting their daily operations to keep up and are providing much needed personal protective equipment (PPE) to Marylanders. The Annapolis Opera started doing just that, when one of the organization’s volunteer seamstresses began creating and sewing masks in March. Soon enough, other volunteers joined her, forming the group “Positively Precious Extraordinaires (PPEs) Making PPE’s.” The group now consists of 22 people total who are making masks in Annapolis, Bowie, and Crofton.
“I am so proud to be able to work with such talented and generous people who are making a difference in our communities every day!” said Kathy Swekel, General Director of the Annapolis Opera Company. “They work behind the scenes at the Annapolis Opera all season, and it's nice that others in the community are now able to acknowledge their talents and generosity.”
The group has made more than 2,000 masks over the course of five weeks, supplying them to healthcare workers at Anne Arundel Medical Center, University of Maryland Medical Center, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore Washington Medical Center Foundation, and various assisted living facilities and dental offices.
Shooting for the stars in Baltimore
In small neighborhoods across the state, many businesses are struggling with long-term closures, putting bar, restaurant and retail employees out of work for extended periods. Luckily, some innovative new programs are reaching for the stars and putting out-of-work residents in Baltimore’s Hampden neighborhood back on the job.
The Hubble Image Similarity Project, a project of Baltimore’s Space Telescope Science Institute, are the brains and operations behind the famous Hubble Space Telescope. The project needed extra eyes to search and categorize the mass database of images and photos taken by the telescope. Recognizing this need, astronomer Joshua Peek turned to the neighborhood of Hampden to recruit volunteers who could help sort and categorize the images.
Volunteers are paid at an hourly rate to login in to a website data base, created by Peek and his team, to sort and categorize images. The project has allowed numerous members of the Hampden community to go back to work. The team is hopeful that they will pay each worker around $2,000 over the next several weeks. Read more about the project.
Lending a helping hand
Many local businesses are also lending a helping hand to community and charitable organizations. During these tough times, food insecurity is still a very real part of many people’s lives. Basys, a local technology company, has graciously raised more than $14,000 in donations for the Maryland Food Bank. The Maryland Food Bank’s main focus is to help end hunger in Maryland, a goal that has become increasingly more difficult during the pandemic.
The fundraising campaign was an internal effort to give back and started with a modest goal that quickly grew as more and more employees and board members participated. In total, the company raised $14,114 to help put food on the table for Marylanders in need.
Throughout these times of uncertainty one thing is for sure, Marylanders are stepping up more than ever in order to keep up. We’ve seen examples of businesses and organizations completely pivoting to lend help and support where it is needed the most. Learn more about Maryland’s innovative efforts.