There is a shortage of available masks for healthcare workers due to the high demand during the COVID-19 outbreak. Many healthcare workers have to disinfect and reuse their masks multiple times because of the shortage. The reason for the shortage is because of a disrupted supply chain in China due to the COVID-19 outbreak and panic buying in the United States.
Not to fear, sewists are here to try and make up the difference. Many people across the country are making an effort to try and donate as many masks as possible.
There are several people locally making and trying to donate masks.
“My daughter gave me a pattern to make some simple masks that may not be effective against COVID-19, but may be useful for protecting people from other illnesses,” said Lynnie Snead of Calimesa. “They’re easy to make, and I have lots of fabric, so I spend my isolation making masks for anyone who may need them. It keeps me busy and helps pass the time. So far, I've made well over 150. There is no charge for the masks. This is my small way of helping, the only way I can.”
Snead says she has been using supplies she already has on hand as she is a retired seamstress. She is making them free of charge. The front of the masks are a cotton print, and the backs are either unbleached muslin or white cotton.
Most of the masks she makes are for people in her Facebook groups that post that they have a need. Through word of mouth, she has many orders. She sews them and then steams them with her iron to sanitize, then puts them in a Ziploc bag and sets them on her porch for pickup.
The mask shortage is not exclusive to California. Emergency rooms and hospitals across the nation have been experiencing shortages.
“We get one mask a shift unless it gets soiled, then we can get another one,” said Eve Traill, M.S., PA-C, lead physician assistant in the emergency room at Mercy Medical Center in Roseburg, Ore.
Traill is a former resident of Yucaipa and says that she has heard about people making masks and providing them to healthcare workers.
“You still need a special mask if you're putting a breathing tube in or suctioning a patient, but otherwise (the masks) should work,” she said.
Andrea Riley of Forest Falls is also making masks.
“I have been donating the masks to Loma Linda and nurses who contact me as well as people who are sick,” said Riley. “I am also selling masks to the public to fund the materials for masks that I give away.”
Riley says that people who have high-risk factors such as lung diseases or compromised immune systems also get the masks for free.
“The masks take about 20 minutes to construct,” says Riley. “I have donated over 150 masks and have made 250 so far.”
There is a national movement on Facebook called “The Million Mask Challenge” and its mission states, “This group is intended to be a resource and support of those able and willing to sew, create, provide information on donating face masks to hospitals, nursing homes, and other caregivers in need.”
One of the positive things about Facebook is that it gives people a way to mobilize and help quickly. If you would like to reach out to the Million Mask Challenge group, please visit its page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/millionmaskschallenge/