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State prisons shift production towards personal protective equipment, making masks, gowns, and hand sanitizer

The exterior of the Anamosa State Penitentiary. (KCRG)
The exterior of the Anamosa State Penitentiary. (KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Apr. 14, 2020 at 3:40 PM CDT
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Prisons across Iowa have changed what they are producing to meet the demand for personal protective equipment, or PPE, here in Iowa.

State prisons, under the Iowa Prison Industries banner, have focused their production on making masks, gowns, and hand sanitizer. At the Anamosa State Penitentiary, inmates are responsible for making face shields.

Officials said, so far, the inmates have made more than 36,000 masks and 1,000 gowns statewide. They said it was their goal to ensure staff and inmates had enough supplies first, and now they are shifting to giving those supplies away to the places in the state that need it.

"We're internally distributing those masks to everybody across the department, and then we're going to be shifting more and more of our resources toward the state stockpile," Cord Overton, the communications director for the Iowa Department of Corrections, said. "So they can go out across the state of Iowa to first responders, nursing staff, people in law enforcement, people at long-term care facilities. They all need these masks and supplies so we're trying to produce as fast as possible."

Overton said they are donating everything they produce to ensure it gets to those that need it most while allowing inmates to learn about the production process while they are incarcerated.