NORWAY — New Balance, a Boston-based footwear maker, has announced it has begun working on prototype designs for surgical masks, joining a host of other domestic manufacturers rallying to support healthcare workers caring for COVID-19 positive patients amidst critical shortages of personal protective equipment.

A notice on its website states that the company is starting the process at its Lawrence, Mass. manufacturing facility and hopes to scale production using its other New England factories soon. It is coordinating its efforts with U.S. government officials and local medical institutions as well other U.S. consortiums and testing facilities.

New Balance has a manufacturing site in Norway as well as other Maine communities and a retail store in Oxford. It closed its facilities as government and health officials began announcing safety measures and social distancing policies. It is not yet known if surgical masks will be made in Norway or how many employees might be called on for their manufacture.

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