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Pennsylvania workers lived in factory for 28 days straight to make PPE to fight coronavirus

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More than 40 employees volunteered to eat, sleep and work inside a Pennsylvania manufacturing plant for 28 days straight to produce vital personal protective equipment material needed during the coronavirus public health crisis, according to reports.

Braskem America in Marcus Hook, about 23 miles outside Philadelphia, organized the live-in rotation to “help ensure the health and safety of our team members who are working as an essential service throughout this crisis to keep these key supply lines running,” a company press release said.

Crews were divided to work 12-hour shifts to continue production around the clock for polypropylene, a raw material needed to make N95 masks, medical gowns, sanitary wipes and other protective gear, WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported. Braskem America paid workers increased wages and provided beds, on-site kitchen areas, groceries and iPads to use during downtime.

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Braskem America plant in Marcus Hook, Pa. (Getty)

Braskem America plant in Marcus Hook, Pa. (Getty)

Though the workers pledged not to return to their homes for nearly a month, friends and family members occasionally drove by the factory honking their horns and waving signs showing their support. The news station captured video showing workers cheering as they finally punched out their time cards and left the building on Sunday.

“We’re truly honored to be able to give back and support people we will never meet in some way,” operations shift supervisor Joe Boyce told WPVI. “All the first responders, all the people on the front lines, we thank you. That’s what makes our job easy to do.”

“We’ve almost been the lucky ones I’ll say, for the last 28 days, because I haven’t had to stand six feet from somebody. I haven’t had to put a mask on,” he added.

Braskem America’s U.S. polymer manufacturing facilities are designated as essential services by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the company press release said. The plant in Delaware County produces 771 million pounds of polypropylene each year, according to its website.

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Pennsylvania has recorded at least 37,053 confirmed coronaviruses cases, with at least 1,394 deaths by noon Thursday, according to the state department of health.