WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) ─ Across the nation, local companies are pivoting from their normal day-to-day operations to produce personal protective equipment for healthcare workers and first responders.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, said Americans are coming together to protect those on the front lines of the pandemic.

“Everyone is giving their best to help people who need help,” Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand said local manufacturers, and even schools, are pitching in to provide the desperately needed PPE.

“The head of SUNY has made two dormitories available for beds and she’s also used the fashion institute to start sowing masks and gowns,” Gillibrand explained.

Priya Bathija of the American Hospital Association said she’s challenging manufacturers, businesses and individuals to produce 100 million masks for our health care workers.

“We’re seeing manufacturers in Washington, New Jersey change over their lines so that they can start making surgical masks for hospitals,” Bathija said. “We’re seeing a lot of larger manufacturers like Tommy Hilfiger, Gap, New Balance step up to the plate.”

Lawmakers in Congress believe the issue highlights the need for President Trump to unleash the full capacity of the Defense Production Act.

“What we can do under Title 1 of the defense production act is we literally go and jump the line,” Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island, said.

Reed said the act would prioritize the production of essential needs to fight this pandemic.

“We can say, ‘Listen, mass manufacturers, we’re first, we have to have these and here’s the price we’re going to pay and we’re going to move these to places where it’s needed,'” he said.

Reed said it’s important that healthcare workers must stay healthy to help stop the spread of the pandemic.

The 100 million mask challenge for healthcare workers was created by the American Hospital Association in conjunction with Providence. Those interested in providing PPE’s can visit AHA’s website for details on how to create masks needed for our healthcare workers.