With overrun hospitals facing an acute shortage of masks, people are pulling out their sewing machines to fill the void
By David Enrich, Rachel Abrams and Steven Kurutz, New York Times March 25, 2020
They are scrounging for fabric, cutting it up, stitching it together. They are repurposing drapes, dresses, bra straps, shower curtains, even coffee filters. They are building supply chains, organizing workers, managing distribution networks.
Most of all, they are sewing.
All over the country, homebound Americans are crafting thousands upon thousands of face masks to help shield doctors, nurses and many others from the coronavirus.
They are pulling together to meet an urgent need: Hospitals, overwhelmed by the fast-spreading pandemic, are burning through their supplies of protective gear, in particular masks, at an alarming rate. Doctors and nurses are getting sick and dying.
In a national emergency, some people’s initial thoughts are to fight over toilet paper. Others, like Good News Network reader Trina Branella, immediately want to leap to the aid of those in the front lines of the crisis.
Trina began constructing and sewing cloth masks for a project in Indiana to help teenage cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. Then, wanted to donate more masks to workers at four local chemo centers in New Jersey, spurred on by a friend of hers whose mother has cancer “and right now she’s using a bandana.”
Cloth masks are useful because they keep your hands from touching your nose and mouth (especially out in public where you don’t know if surfaces are clean). They also can contain sneezes and coughs, protecting those around you who may have vulnerable immune systems.
As Trina was running low on fabric and unable to purchase more, she asked around to see if there was anyone willing to donate to a good cause, but had no luck. She then reached out to Good News Network on Friday, the very same day GNN received a press release from JOANN fabric Stores announcing that the U.S. company would begin donating materials to anyone looking to sew together masks, gowns, or other essential medical equipment for healthcare workers.
With the progression of the CORVID-19 emergency, hospitals and health care facilities are quickly running out of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Though ideally masks, gowns and other PPE would be professionally made at medical grade, replacement supplies are just not available. With some hospitals recommending nurses and other staff using bandanas and other low-tech measures, making well fitting masks from cloth becomes a much more acceptable replacement to no equipment or improvised equipment. Even if a handmade cloth mask is only 50% effective, it’s better than no protection at all, which is where an increasing number of health care facilities are finding themselves.
Please see our pages of patterns and materials and dive in to help fill the gap in protective wear our health care workers and first responders need.