April 6, 2020

Coronavirus: Volunteers sew masks to meet demand


By Tammy Webber, Dee-Ann Durbin and Anne D’Innocenzio | Associated Press

CHICAGO — Bill Purdue waterproofs basements for a living, but he has spent the past few days in his buddy’s Washington, Indiana, auto trim and upholstery shop cutting rectangles of cotton fabric that his friend sews into face masks.

Fashion designer Briana Danyele left Italy last month to return to her mother’s Greer, South Carolina, home, where she has turned the living room into a mini sewing factory, making masks that she embroiders with the words, “We Got This!”

They’re among scores of people answering pleas from hospitals, doctors and nurses so desperate for personal protective equipment amid the viral pandemic that they’ve turned to the public, saying do-it-yourself face masks are better than nothing.

And for those sitting at home worrying as the virus strains hospitals and the economy teeters, sewing masks makes them feel less helpless.

“Whatever it takes to get the job done, that’s what I want to do,” said Purdue, 57, whose daughter works at the women’s hospital in Evansville, Indiana. He and his friend Mike Rice responded to a Facebook post last week from Deaconess Health System in Evansville asking the public for help.

The efforts mirror those in other countries, including Spain, where mask-making volunteers include a group of nuns and members of the Spanish Air Force. Around 500 masks a day are coming off sewing machines at the Paratroop School in Murcia, in the country’s southeast, according to the Air Force’s Twitter account.

In Belgium, what began as a one-woman operation about a week ago grew to a small army of home-sewing mask-makers within days. In Kosovo, inmates in a women’s prison volunteered to make masks.

For most people, the new virus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia. The vast majority recover.

But the virus is spreading rapidly and starting to max out the health care system in several cities.

Deaconess spokeswoman Pam Hight said the hospital system realized it could face a shortage if local infections skyrocket like they have elsewhere. So officials produced and posted a how-to video that has been shared across the country.

“We had people who wanted to ship them to us from all over the United States and we started saying, ‘Please, please use them in your communities,’” she said. “It makes your heart warm; people are so good.”

She said Deaconess expects to collect thousands of masks this week at an off-hospital site and sanitize them before distributing them to nurses and doctors or sending them to local nursing homes and homeless shelters.

In a similar effort, Providence St. Joseph’s Health in the hard-hit Seattle area is putting together kits using special material and distributing them to people willing to sew them together as part of a 100-million mask challenge.

Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, New Hampshire’s largest hospital, is preparing kits with fabric and elastic and encouraging volunteers to sew face masks for …read more

Source:: The Mercury News – Health

      

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