March 10, 2020

Our Efforts In Seattle

Two people doing an 'elbow bump' instead of a fist bump.

We are grateful that we here at TOM BIHN have not been directly impacted by COVID-19. Right now, our thoughts are with our community, our city, this country and the world; we are doing everything we can think of to do our part to stay healthy.

Our factory is still at work; we're manufacturing non-medical grade face masks for healthcare professionals due to the dire lack of personal protective equipment.

Our focus since late February has been on various preventative measures:

Any visitors to our factory that we can't simply meet outside are given a mask to wear, asked to wash their hands, and their temperature is taken before entry. 

Our main focus has been on washing our hands often and utilizing the proper technique for washing hands. COVID-19 is said by experts to be transmitted by human-to-human contact; hand washing is the #1 thing all of us can do in an effort to prevent its spread.

As per our usual policy, any employee who is feeling ill is asked to stay home. Any employee who wants to stay home for any reason can.

In addition to the above, we elected to take additional and purely precautionary measures, such as instituting a "bag hold" of 9 days: once bags are finished in our factory, we hold them for 9 days in our warehouse before they are shipped. In instances when it has been necessary to ship an order before that 9 days, we have thoroughly sprayed the bag with isopropyl alcohol or calculated the warehouse time + time-in-transit so that it achieves the 9 day hold. Our shipping crew wear masks and gloves while shipping. We have also implemented some professionally guided efforts to further sanitize. 

Recommendations and guidelines are evolving; we are following King County (Seattle) recommendations, as well as those of the CDC, and we're also looking to Taiwan's efforts for inspiration. We're thinking about this a lot: we want to be prepared and we want to do our part. It's important for us to take responsibility, to do what we can, to try our best to think "If I imagine it's next week, what do I wish I would have thought of this week?"

Finally, we'd like to share this excerpt from a Seattle Times article. This is exactly why we feel we must take these efforts:

"Even if you’re not in a vulnerable group, following all of these guidelines, known as non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), helps to protect those who are. According to Baseman, evidence from prior outbreaks suggests that “any one community-level mitigation strategy can’t work 100% by itself, but … the more layers of those NPIs that you institute, the more likely you are to have a successful community mitigation response.”

She likens the strategy to a stack of Swiss cheese slices. “If you have an individual piece of Swiss cheese it has holes in it,” she said, “but if you have a stack of Swiss cheese pieces on top of each other, then you’ve got a pretty good barrier.”

When people take precautions to limit their own exposure to COVID-19, she said, “they’re protecting everybody else that they may be exposed to later, in addition to themselves.” - Katie Ross of Seattle's Public Health, excerpted from this Seattle Times article


Masan - March 11, 2020

Thank you very much for all the additional efforts and such a great transparency. I personally have zero concern buying your merchandise under the circumstances. Please stay healthy and keep up the awesome work!

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We're the TOM BIHN crew: we design bags, make bags, ship bags, and answer questions about bags. Oh, and we collaborate on blog posts, too.