Manatee County Jail inmates, deputies sew masks for first responders, community members

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Through its Uniform Production Unit, the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office announced it will be making masks to help provide personal protective equipment for first responders and other workers facing exposure to COVID-19.

The facility is located at the Manatee County Jail and is staffed with a sewing instructor, deputies and inmates. They are producing close to 100 masks a day out of material normally used for making bed sheets and a filtered fabric used as backing for embroidery on T-shirts.

“We looked at the material we had in our uniform production shop and decided why not make masks for first responders and other workers on the frontlines,” said Sheriff Rick Wells.

The sheriff’s office said a sewing instructor and deputies researched how to create medical-grade masks with breathable cotton and a filter insert. The Uniform Production Unit has produced several hundred masks for personnel at the Manatee County Emergency Operations Center so far.

Additionally, the sheriff wanted to donate masks to people who are at risk of catching the virus such as grocery store employees.

“Even while taking precautions, we know many of those workers are coming face to face with people all day long, so we wanted to share some of our extra masks with them,” Wells said.

On Wednesday, deputies delivered roughly 100 masks to Winn Dixie and Detwiler’s Farm Market in Palmetto, the sheriff’s office said.


  • Florida is reporting 85,926 cases and 3,061 deaths
  • Florida in Phase Two of reopening
  • Cases have spiked in past week, Gov. DeSantis says due to increased testing


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