Shelton factory retrofits to make mask shields for coronavirus front liners

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — A Shelton company that normally provides medical-grade plastic devices has retrofitted its plant to produce face mask shields to help emergency workers fighting COVID-19.

Modern Plastics on Long Hill Cross Road is now turning out about 500,000 plastic face mask shields per day — and planning to increase that — and have been in contact with health care facilities throughout the country, according to Bing Carbone, a Shelton resident and president of the 75-year-old company.

“The pandemic is unsettling for everyone, and I’m no different,” said Carbone. “I think we are all having trouble sleeping at night and anxiety levels are high, but we are Americans and have been through so many things in our country’s history.

“I think this country has truly come together during this pandemic crisis. American ingenuity is at work this very moment. We will solve this crisis, and we will be a better nation as a result … that, I am very confident of,” Carbone said.

The plastic face mask shields are used by first responders, doctors, nurses, health care professionals and other industries where an added layer of protection is required.

“We will be scaling up to more than 500,000 masks per day, and then upwards from there,” said Carbone. “We have been contacted by health care facilities from every state at this point. We are inundated, but we are fulfilling order requests. We have an incredible staff of dedicated employees that have been working non-stop.”

The masks have become symbolic of the international treatment effort and need to be in the hands of the professionals working on the front lines as soon as possible, Carbone said.

“If I was in that industry, I wouldn’t dream of treating patients without one of these,” added Carbone, “and that’s the very problem we are facing now. There is a massive shortage. It’s terrifying, I can imagine, to not be wearing one of the face mask shields. This product is never going away. It will be the new norm.”

Modern Plastics has been deemed an essential business by the federal government, Department of Defense and large strategic global medical device suppliers. The company normally supplies high performance and medical grade plastics for implant in the human body.

Carbone said manufacturing the face masks is difficult, and the company was forced to obtain materials from across the United States and in enormous quantities.

“We had to set up assembly lines, which was a huge start-up cost. We had to hire people. We had to train people, and then we had to execute in terms of making a finished product,” said Carbone. “To date, I think we have well more than 1 million orders from a simple Facebook post I made on my personal page.”

Carbone said he asked people to share his post, and the response, he said, has been overwhelming.

“I could not be any prouder that we are helping to protect our citizens and certainly our very critical health care professionals,” said Carbone. “I think I have received a million thank-you notes as well, and I am so humbled. This is quite an experience for me.”

Modern Plastics has also had an increased demand for another product: an acrylic sheet, which the company makes into buffet covers — sneeze guards — operating room protection barriers and other physical contact barriers.

Carbone has lived in Shelton for 28 years and has served on various boards and committees over the years.

"I absolutely love Shelton; in fact, I moved Modern Plastics from Bridgeport into a beautiful Bob Scinto building in 2010,” said Carbone. “I would do anything for this great city.”