Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced a program Thursday to help local manufacturing businesses contribute to the coronavirus fight — in part by producing 5 million non-medical-grade masks and other protective equipment.

“I’ve always said that Los Angeles is a manufacturing capital, and now we’re going to prove it,” Garcetti said. “Those folks who want to help in this, please sign up today.”

The LA Protects program is aimed at getting businesses and manufacturers to help produce protective gear for people in critical industries, including grocery stores. Garcetti said that as a start, the city is working with the clothing company Reformation to design masks and other needed items.

“We cannot get through this crisis unless we are healthy and safe,” Garcetti said.

Kaiser Permanente has provided specifications for creating non-medical masks, Garcetti said. Unlike the N-95 masks, which are designed for doctors and first responders, the masks would be used to help protect grocery store workers, delivery food service employees and people working in other businesses that are deemed essential.

Garcetti said many of the workers in clothing manufacturers are immigrants, and getting them back to work is one way to keep the city’s industry sector afloat.

Businesses interested in joining the program can get more information at coronavirus.lacity.org/laprotects.

Garcetti again warned that the coronavirus situation in the Southland will likely get worse before it gets better.

“In a week from now, we will have images like the ones we see in New York,” Garcetti said.

He again urged people to continue adhering to social distancing guidelines and avoid gathering in large groups. To people who think they can join large gatherings and not get caught, he said, “Know that those images in Italy that came to New York … are coming here soon. The truth of the matter is, there is no projection in which a couple weeks from now (we will be) doing fine. This will be tough.”

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